Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains by Steve Fitch

Changes is Rural Life

The face of Kansas is changing. While the overall population of the Great Plains has increased since 1950, the rural communities of the Great Plains have been losing people since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Most people are living in the urban areas.

Reasons include:

  • Migration to the city by many people in search of better paying and less risky jobs. This began during the Dust Bowl when farmers were driven off their farms by the weather.
  • Today we are seeing the collapse of the family farm and the rise of agribusiness. One hundred years ago more than 30 percent of American workers were farmers, now they number little more than 1 percent. Smaller farms are being eaten up by larger corporate farms.
  • In addition, many young people are choosing not to go into farming like their father and grandfathers did.
  • There is a switch from the railroads to trucking for carrying goods. Many small towns were located on the rail lines, which have now been pulled up.
  • Smaller stores are not able to compete with the larger chain stores in bigger towns and cities and as they close down the towns they are in begin to die. This is called the Walmart effect by some.
  • There is better transportation for more people so it is easier and faster to travel to cities, and there is less need to get goods and services from a small town.

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