New Perspectives on THE WEST
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Message From Sponsor
The People
Empire Upon The Trails
Speck of the Future
Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
The Geography of Hope


The Exodusters

Rain Follows the Plow

A Hard Time I Have


The Romance of My Life

The Barrio

I Must Lose Myself Again

Friends of the Indian

Medicine Flower

Hell Without the Heat

Gunpowder Entertainment

Final Vision

THE WEST The Geography of Hope

Rain Follows the Plow

Stewart Udall

"The West has always been and always will be a place where there's a struggle to survive, and where nature strikes heavy blows at you. . . That's geography. And I think part of that conquering of the West seeped into the American character. In many ways, the West has been a geography of hope for the country as a whole."
Stewart Udall

For forty years, homesteaders had passed over the western prairies on their way to better land, but now even this rough, arid soil was desirable, thanks in part to railroad company advertisements that described it as lush farmland and to a growing belief that settlers had actually changed the onetime "Great American Desert" by plowing the earth.

Nebraska FarmersGod speed the plow.... By this wonderful provision, which is only man's mastery over nature, the clouds are dispensing copious rains ... [the plow] is the instrument which separates civilization from savagery; and converts a desert into a farm or garden.... To be more concise, Rain follows the plow.
Charles Dana Wilber

During the 1870s and early 1880s, unusually heavy rainfall made these claims sound plausible, and within ten years nearly 2 million people had sunk their roots into the prairie soil. But when the wet years finally came to an end, the high plains became again a place where only the most determined could hang on.

Roger Welsch"When we look at these people sitting in front of their sod houses ... we think, What squalor, living in a dirt house. We see women in maybe an elegant dress but without shoes on and we think, These people were poor. But what I see is pride. What they’re really saying is, Look how rich we are. We’re stinking rich, our muskmelons are this big.... These are not people who are embarassed by their situation. They are drenched in pride.
Roger Welsch

Omar Kem and family, 1880s NebraskaAh, Nebraska Land, Sweet Nebraska Land!
Upon thy burning soil I stand.
And I look away, across the plains,
And I wonder why it never rains.

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