Many more women travelled west after 1869, when it became possible to travel by train all the way from the Atlantic Coast, through Omaha in Nebraska, to San Francisco in California.
For Native Americans and Mexican Americans already living in the West, however, the expansion of the railroad spelled an end to the life they had known.
White settlers took over land that villages had held communally.
Native Americans began to be herded onto reservations, and Hispanics were forced to work for the new settlers in order to survive.
Mexican American women who had once worked together plastering adobe walls or baking bread for their villages now hired themselves out as servants to white settlers.