Innovations that made it possible to farm the "Great American Desert"


  • The iron plow was vital for busting the sod, allowing "sodbusters" to plant wheat in the soil below.
  • Barbed wire, invented by Joseph Glidden in 1874, protected a homesteaders land from roaming cattle.
  • Windmills were needed to pump water out of deep wells that reached the aquifer below.
  • Cyrus McCormick's mechanical reaper and twine binder were essential during the wheat harvest.