Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-1925


A factor which exerted a considerable influence upon the course of Western United States history was the notion of a great American desert. With the western portion of our country in its present state of development it is, of course, difficult to appreciate this old notion of a desert extending eastward from the Rocky Mountains into central Kansas and Nebraska. Nevertheless there is no doubt that such a notion of a desert did exert a considerable influence on the course of western history. But the purpose of this study is not to examine the influence which the "Great American Desert" exerted upon the occupation and development of the West. It is, rather, to investigate the origin of the notion of this "desert", its location, the climatic basis for such a notion of a desert, and finally the occupation and development of this supposed desert. The last part of this work will consist of a study of the development of Weld County, Colorado, as illustrative of the development of the entire region once known as the "Great American Desert". In this study the term, "Great American Desert", will be used in the sense of a name given to a more or less definite portion of what was once considered a vast western desert region. This region which shall be under consideration, and which shall constitute for us the "Great American Desert'' will be limited to the territory lying between the Rockies and approximately the 100th meridian on the west and east respectively, and between Canada and Mexico on the north and south respectively. (See the accompanying map).