How did 19th Century pioneers moving out to the American west decide on their destinations?

I just read “Pioneer Women: The Lives of Women on the Frontier” by Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith. It discusses and quotes from letters and journal entries of women who went out west following their husbands. In particular it describes the hardships they faced while establishing a home on the frontier.

I read stories of families going to places like Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, etc. I wonder though – how or why did they choose a particular place?

Aside from the gold rush, clearly many went in search of farmable land. So then do we know how they chose a particular piece of land in a particular state?

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What do you think?

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