The Californian Gold Rush of 1849 drew people from the eastern part of the country (and rest of the world) and so contributed to western expansion; but opening up the Eyre Canal meant that people arriving in New York were able to travel west more easily in their search for land 'out west'. Then there were the Land Stampedes, where prospective settlers lined up, and at a signal, raced to stake claim to a piece of land they had their eye on, so they could settle and farm it as their own. The millions of settlers who arrived in the New World to find a better life, who wanted to farm or raise cattle, contributed to this Western Expansion, and the coming of the railway meant that more and more of the land in the West was opened up.
See if your video store has the movie How the West Was Won. You couldn't have a better potted(=put into a short and easily understood form) history lesson!
Student or Learner