ReHomesteading the Great Plains

Frederick Jackson Turner defined the frontier as a density of less than 6 people per square mile and declared that in 1893 the frontier was closed. But in the past fifty years, farming has become more efficient and millions of people have moved from the Great Plains to the coastal cities. As a result, the frontier has been reborn. Kansas is more of a frontier state today than it was in 1890!

Some people see the depopulation of the Great Plains as a wonderful opportunity to create the world’s largest wildlife reserve – the Buffalo Commons. Depopulation, however, is not pleasant for the people who remain who find themselves unable to afford those public goods and amenities supportable only with a larger population. Residents are fighting back, however, with an old policy, homesteading.

It’s not Lincoln’s 160 acres but Marquette, Kansas is giving away a little less than an acre to anyone willing to homestead (literally build a home) on nearby land. Several other small towns in Kansas have competitive offers (one even offers free cable).

Thanks to Curtis Melvin for the link.


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