We had been talking about Canada’s rural areas becoming ghost towns. Well we are having the same problem in the United States. We don’t want to leave Canadian or Mexican ghost towns feeling lonely.
This new round of discussions was started by the news that the town of Scenic, South Dakota was up for sale. As Forbes Magazine put it:
Clare O’Connor, Forbes, 27 July 2011
For less than the price of a one bedroom apartment in much of Manhattan, you can buy a whole town in South Dakota. The catch: it’s right on the edge of the remote Badlands, 50 miles from the nearest town of any size. The population is 9.
|The totality of Scentic, South Dakota|
Granted that the few pictures you pick up of the town make it look an awful lot like a town that was turned into a tourist attraction, and that there are still a few people living there. But it does look like the type of place where you could get into a ghostly poker game (video).
United States rural population has decreased to just 16% percent of total population, a 20% decrease (.04/.20) since just 2000. Cities, particularly smaller metro areas in Arizona, California, and Texas all grew 11% overall during this time frame. The suburbs (considered urban) now making up 51% of the population. These increases in overall urban numbers occurred even with the big declines in some of the large cities in the old industrial Midwest and Northeast.
Daily Mail Reporter, 28 July 2011 (hat tip: Leibowitz Society)
Vast swathes of the U.S. countryside are emptying and communities becoming ghost towns...
'Some of the most isolated rural areas face a major uphill battle, with a broad area of the country emptying out,' said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the Population Reference Bureau, a research group in Washington, D.C.
'Many rural areas can't attract workers because there aren't any jobs, and businesses won't relocate there because there aren't enough qualified workers. So they are caught in a downward spiral.'
Areas like the Great Plains in the central U.S. and Appalachia in the East, along with parts of the South and Texas, could face the most significant population declines, demographers say. These places suffered some of the biggest losses over the past decade as young adults left and the people who stayed got older, moving past childbearing years.
Rural towns are scrambling to attract new residents and stave off heavy funding cuts from financially strapped federal and state governments.
As we discussed earlier with the Argentinean ghost towns that collapsed during their economic crises, the threat of losing connective services threatens to put them finally over the edge (same source):
Delta Air Lines recently announced it would end flight service to 24 small airports, several of them in the Great Plains, and the U.S.
The U.S. Postal Service is mulling plans to close thousands of branches in mostly rural areas of the country.
The loss of essential services makes the idea of some form of homestead farming that much more difficult. Granted a completely self-sustaining homestead does not in theory need services: but they do need to pay taxes. Modern service methods are generally less time consuming, and sometime less expensive as well. Important considerations when you need to earn enough money to pay your taxes.
Of course in the case of the Mexican rural ghost town, you are looking at more of an apocalypse-in-progress type situation, rather than a demographic-financial one.