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Bridging the Distance: common issues of the rural West by Bridging the Distance examines a number of the problems and prospects of the rural West that have largely been neglected by scholars. The issues are considered in four sections--Defining the Rural West, Community, Economy, and Land Use--each with an introduction by editor David Danbom. The essays highlight factors that set the region apart from the rest of the country and provide varied perspectives on challenges faced by those living in often isolated areas. Contributors cover matters such as a hazing incident that divided a small Colorado town and the effects of media covera≥ challenges in areas of Montana and Wyoming where the ideas of new exurbanites regarding natural resources differ from those of long-time residents; conflict between surface water and ground water users in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska; and the shortcomings of health care among Latino immigrants in rural California. Essays on rural economy suggest how states can better use fiscal policies to advance long-term economic health and how resources can be exploited in ways that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. On the question of land use, one essay shares the viewpoint of a ranching family in Nevada that has long struggled with the government over grazing cattle on federal lands. Another examines the case of the Goshute Indians of Skull Valley, whose efforts to use their reservation for nuclear waste storage roused the ire of the state of Utah. The essays in Bridging the Distance are fresh, informative, and insightful examinations of the complex problems facing the rural West. This is a book that will spur both conversations and the search for solutions.
Publication Date: 2015-10-31
Land in the American West: private claims and the common good by Throughout the history of the United States, the concepts of �land� and �the West� have fired the American imagination and fueled controversy. The essays in Land in the American West deal with complex, troublesome, and interrelated questions regarding land: Who owns it? Who has access to it? What happens when private rights infringe upon the public good, or when one ethnic group is pitted against another, or when there is a conflict between economic and environmental values? Many of these questions have deep historical roots. They all have special significance in the modern American West, where natural resources are still abundant and large areas of land are federally owned.
Publication Date: 2011-12-01
The Not So Wild, Wild West : property rights on the frontier by Mention of the American West usually evokes images of rough and tumble cowboys, ranchers, and outlaws. In contrast, The Not So Wild, Wild West casts America's frontier history in a new framework that emphasizes the creation of institutions, both formal and informal, that facilitated cooperation rather than conflict. Rather than describing the frontier as a place where heroes met villains, this book argues that everyday people helped carve out legal institutions that tamed the West.The authors emphasize that ownership of resources evolves as those resources become more valuable or as establishing property rights becomes less costly. Rules evolving at the local level will be more effective because local people have a greater stake in the outcome. This theory is brought to life in the colorful history of Indians, fur trappers, buffalo hunters, cattle drovers, homesteaders, and miners. The book concludes with a chapter that takes lessons from the American frontier and applies them to our modern "frontiers"--the environment, developing countries, and space exploration.
Call Number: Available for request via PALShare or ILL
Publication Date: 2004-05-04
The Political Economy of the American Frontier by This book offers an analytical explanation for the origins of and change in property institutions on the American frontier during the nineteenth century. Its scope is interdisciplinary, integrating insights from political science, economics, law and history. This book shows how claim clubs - informal governments established by squatters in each of the major frontier sectors of agriculture, mining, logging and ranching - substituted for the state as a source of private property institutions and how they changed the course of who received a legal title, and for what price, throughout the nineteenth century. Unlike existing analytical studies of the frontier that emphasize one or two sectors, this book considers all major sectors, as well as the relationship between informal and formal property institutions, while also proposing a novel theory of emergence and change in property institutions that provides a framework to interpret the complicated history of land laws in the United States.
Call Number: Available for request via PALShare or ILL
Publication Date: 2013-09-16
The Political Economy of the American West by In the American West, trappers, miners, and farmers often preceded the formal institutions of government and therefore had to invent their own institutional framework. Early historians like Frederick Jackson Turner and Walter Prescott Webb found heroes in this romantic frontier. Modern historians, however, are challenging the traditional histories, arguing that the history of the West is one of natural resource waste, minority exploitation, and political manipulation by a powerful elite. This book challenges many conclusions from both schools in a framework that considers Western history as an episode in the evolution of property rights. The authors in this volume provide a new way of thinking about the West that relies neither on heroes nor villains but argues that economics and politics shaped the institutional environment of the American West.
Call Number: Available for request via PALShare or ILL
Publication Date: 1994-03-29
Profiting from the Plains : the Great Northern Railway and corporate development of the American West by Profiting from the Plains looks at two inextricably linked historical movements in the United States: the westward expansion of the great Northern Railway and the agricultural development of the northern plains. Claire Strom explores the persistent, idiosyncratic attempts by the Great Northern to boost agricultural production along its rail routes from St. Paul to Seattle between 1878 and 1917. Lacking a federal land grant, the Great Northern could not make money through land sales like other railways. It had to rely on haulage to make a profit, and the greatest potential for increasing haulage lay in farming. The energetic and charismatic owner of the Great Northern Railway, James J. Hill, spearheaded most of the initiatives undertaken by his corporation to boost agricultural production. He tried, often unsuccessfully, to persuade farmers of the profitability of his methods, which were largely based on his personal farming experience. When Hill�s initial efforts to increase haulage failed, he shifted his focus to working with outside agencies and institutions, often providing them with the funding to pursue projects he hoped would profit his railroad. At the time, state and federal agencies were also promoting agricultural development through irrigation, conservation, and dryland farming, but their agendas often clashed with those of the Great Northern Railway. Because Hill failed to grasp the extent to which politicians� goals differed from those of the railroad, his use of federal expertise to promote agricultural change often backfired. But despite these obstacles, the railroad magnate ironically remained among the last defenders of the small-scale farmer modeled on Jeffersonian idealism. This fascinating story of railroad politics and development ties into themes of corporate and federal sponsorship, which are increasingly recognized as fundamental to western history. As the first scholarly examination of James J. Hill�s agricultural enterprises, Profiting from the Plains makes an important contribution to the biography of the popular and controversial Hill, as well as to western and environmental history.
Publication Date: 2011-10-01
Securing the West: politics, public lands, and the fate of the old republic, 1785-1850 by Few issues defined the period between American independence and the Mexican War more sharply than westward settlement and the role of the federal government in that expansion. In Securing the West, John R. Van Atta examines the visions of the founding generation and the increasing influence of ideological differences in the years after the peace of 1815. Americans expected the country to grow westward, but on the details of that growth they held strongly different opinions. What part should Congress play in this development? How much should public land cost? What of the families and businesses left behind, and how would society's institutions be established in the West? What of the premature settlers, the "squatters" who challenged the rule of law while epitomizing democratic daring? Taking a broad approach, Van Atta addresses three interrelated queries: First, how did competing economic beliefs and divergent cultural mandates influence the various outcomes of this broad debate over the means, timing, and purposes of settling the trans-Appalachian West? Second, what alternative visions of western society lay behind the battles among policy makers within the government and the interested parties who would sway them? Third, why did settlement of the West take such a different course in the end from that which the earliest leaders of the republic intended? This story explores dimensions of the federal lands question that other historians have minimized or left out entirely. Van Atta draws upon a range of sources known to have influenced the public discourse, including congressional debates, committee reports, and correspondence; editorial writings by the famous and unknown; and news coverage in various widely circulated newspapers and magazines of the period. Much of the attention focuses on Congress--the elected leaders who advocated divergent plans about western lands. In Congress, more than any other place, public leaders articulated basic concerns about the character, structure, direction, and destiny of society in the early United States. By 1830, many other important national concerns had become critically entangled with land disposition, creating points of ideological tension among rival regions, parties, and interests in the early years of the republic--particularly in Jacksonian America.
Publication Date: 2014-04-23
Sunset Limited: the Southern Pacific Railroad and the development of the American West, 1850-1930 by The only major U.S. railroad to be operated by westerners and the only railroad built from west to east, the Southern Pacific acquired a unique history and character. It also acquired a reputation, especially in California, as a railroad that people loved to hate. This magisterial history tells the full story of the Southern Pacific for the first time, shattering myths about the company that have prevailed to this day. A landmark account, Sunset Limited explores the railroad's development and influence--especially as it affected land settlement, agriculture, water policy, and the environment--and offers a new perspective on the tremendous, often surprising, role the company played in shaping the American West. Based on his unprecedented and extensive research into the company's historical archives, Richard Orsi finds that, contrary to conventional understanding, the Southern Pacific Company identified its corporate well-being with population growth and social and economic development in the railroad's hinterland. As he traces the complex and shifting intersections between corporate and public interest, Orsi documents the railroad's little-known promotion of land distribution, small-scale farming, scientific agriculture, and less wasteful environmental practices and policies--including water conservation and wilderness and recreational parklands preservation. Meticulously researched, lucidly written, and judiciously balanced, Sunset Limited opens a new window onto the American West in a crucial phase of its development and will forever change our perceptions of one of the largest and most important western corporations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Publication Date: 2005-05-16
Translating Property: the Maxwell Land Grant and the conflict over land in the American West, 1840-1900 by Although Mexico lost its northern territories to the United States in 1848, battles over property rights and ownership have remained intense. This turbulent, vividly narrated story of the Maxwell Land Grant, a single tract of 1.7 million acres in northeastern New Mexico, shows how contending groups reinterpret the meaning of property to uphold their conflicting claims to land. The Southwest has been and continues to be the scene of a collision between land regimes with radically different cultural conceptions of the land's purpose. We meet Jicarilla Apaches, whose identity is rooted in a sense of place; Mexican governors and hacienda patrons seeking status as New World feudal magnates; "rings" of greedy territorial politicians on the make; women finding their own way in a man's world; Anglo homesteaders looking for a place to settle in the American West; and Dutch investors in search of gargantuan returns on their capital. The European and American newcomers all "mistranslated" the prior property regimes into new rules, to their own advantage and the disadvantage of those who had lived on the land before them. Their efforts to control the Maxwell Land Grant by wrapping it in their own particular myths of law and custom inevitably led to conflict and even violence as cultures and legal regimes clashed.
Publication Date: 2002-03-29