The Emptying Out of the Plains

Even as the mansions sprout in the West’s more fabulous locations, and as big-box stores and cookie-cutter developments cover more and more formerly open space, the plains — from eastern Montana and eastern Wyoming across the Dakotas and down as far as north Texas — are emptying. Farming techniques are better than ever, with a single farmer producing enough food for 100 people, but it’s as hard as ever to squeeze a living from the land, and the kids coming of age tend to seek new lives in the cities.

Not since the Dust Bowl years have the prairies faced such an economic crisis. Much of the old West wishes it had enough people just to stay alive.

By Sanjay Talwani

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