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Very small town life in isolated rural areas

JNA

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Maister

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BUMP
Here's what livability dot com had to say recently about Dunning:

Things to Do in Dunning, NE
Dunning , NE, offers a bevy of can’t-miss things to do, from attending special events, to getting involved in the arts and learning about local history; to dining at independent restaurants and staying active at area parks. Check out the following articles to get an inside look at how Dunning , NE, will keep you entertained.

The cynical among us might conclude that entry is nothing more than boilerplate language, with only the town's name plugged in, but local residents will know best.
 

Dan

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A few hundred miles away in little Arthur, Nebraska (population 117), county seat of Arthur County (population 457), things seem to be hopping.

The business names tell a lot about the place. Bunkhouse Bar and Grill, Wolf Den Market, Rose Saddlery, Marshall Custom Hats, Crusty's Feed Store, and Chuck Wagon Meats.

Another sidewalk to nowhere. They're all over the place in these tiny Great Plains towns.

There's always that one "collector".

The town swimming pool doubles as an equipment yard.

Miles and miles of this. There's a stark beauty about it.

Ski Patrol 20-plus miles away.
 

Maister

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The Google Streetview link shows an extremely wide main street for such a small town. I've noticed a similar phenomenon in Texas -- a state road in a remote rural area will widen to four lanes through tiny little towns, where there's almost no traffic to begin with.

Many of these towns have a street grid that's far larger than what the population justifies. Either they were standard railroad townsites that were never built out, or the communities have shrunk to a point where there's "rural urban prairie", for lack of a better term. I've seen this a lot more in dryland states (Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas) than in Iowa, Illinois, or Indiana, where the tiny towns seem more built out.

A lot of these little towns I've passed through have curbs and sidewalks in seemingly random locations, as if early civic leaders anticipated bustling urban context streets filled with pedestrians. Here's what it looks like a block away from that main street in Dunning, Nebraska.
Dan said:
Another sidewalk to nowhere. They're all over the place in these tiny Great Plains towns.
I've observed these things as well throughout the Great Plains. It's seldom seen elsewhere, but not uncommon in this particular (large and highly dispersed) region. It's almost like a century and a half ago the Founders of the respective burgs were filled with ambitious dreams and foresaw great future growth occurring in these unpopulated agricultural areas, and planned their infrastructure based on that premise. In fact, I think it was otterpop who remarked elsewhere that many western towns were laid out on a hugely ambitious scale. Maybe it was simply hubris of the era, what with America being a rising power and Manifest Destiny occupying the public consciousness.
 

Maister

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AIB Dan

Can you tell the difference between Nebraska & South Dakato just pan around -

State Line
In the words of humorist Dave Barry: "North Dakota is just like South Dakota, except without all the glitz. Oh, and Saskatchewan is just like North Dakota, except without all the glitz."

Dave Barry apparently had it out for the Dakotas because he also had this to say

Dave Barry said:
There are plenty of overlooked destinations right here in the United States. North Dakota, for example, is one of the most overlooked destinations on the planet. Why not go there? They LOVE visitors. I went up to Grand Forks, N.D., last January, and they were so excited that they named a sewage pumping station after me. Maybe they'll do the same for you! Even if they don't, you could take your family to see my station. (Tip: Do not breathe.) After that, you could visit the many other attractions in the North Dakota region, such as ... OK, such as South Dakota. Then the next day you could ... well, you could check out my sewage pumping station again. This would be WAY cheaper than Disney World.
 

DVD

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The thing I find funny about rural communities is the knowledge of all the other small communities. Let's say I did something stupid and was banished to Detroit or some other "big" city in Michigan. If someone asked where Posen (pop. 234) is I would look at them like they were crazy. Even if I was a life long Michigander I would still have no clue. Now if you're from some other small town and asked you would get an answer like, "Oh yeah, it's on 65 right of the 23. I had a distant cousin that grew up there and they have the best..."
 

mendelman

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The thing I find funny about rural communities is the knowledge of all the other small communities. Let's say I did something stupid and was banished to Detroit or some other "big" city in Michigan. If someone asked where Posen (pop. 234) is I would look at them like they were crazy. Even if I was a life long Michigander I would still have no clue. Now if you're from some other small town and asked you would get an answer like, "Oh yeah, it's on 65 right of the 23. I had a distant cousin that grew up there and they have the best..."
As the cyburbian that was born and raised in that part of MI...yep.

And people from Posen would complain about all the 'city traffic' in Alpena.

(fyi - there's no real 'traffic' in Alpena, ever.)
 

Whose Yur Planner

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The thing I find funny about rural communities is the knowledge of all the other small communities. Let's say I did something stupid and was banished to Detroit or some other "big" city in Michigan. If someone asked where Posen (pop. 234) is I would look at them like they were crazy. Even if I was a life long Michigander I would still have no clue. Now if you're from some other small town and asked you would get an answer like, "Oh yeah, it's on 65 right of the 23. I had a distant cousin that grew up there and they have the best..."
There are plenty of old farm towns in my native state that are the same way.
 

Rygor

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EG, if you (or anyone else) didn’t giggle at the thought of Pennsylvania towns named “Intercourse” or “Blue Ball”, you’re not human.

View attachment 6113
How many of these have you all been to? I've been to 3 of them: Wankers Corners (right outside Portland, OR), Short Pump, VA (just outside Richmond), and Floyd's Knobs, IN (I have relatives that actually used to LIVE there! It's on the Indiana side of the Louisville metro area). There is also an Effingham, IL like the one in N.H. I used to go through it all the time. They have probably the least intimidating high school mascot ever. They are the "Flaming Hearts". I kid you not. Look it up. Effingham, IL is also known as having America's largest cross, at the "crossroads" (LOL) of I-70 and I-57.
 

Gedunker

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We have always argued amongst ourselves whether it is Floyds Knobs or Floyd Snobs.

Of course, I’m amidst the poor valley mice, so what the hell do I matter?
 

Doohickie

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I've observed these things as well throughout the Great Plains. It's seldom seen elsewhere, but not uncommon in this particular (large and highly dispersed) region. It's almost like a century and a half ago the Founders of the respective burgs were filled with ambitious dreams and foresaw great future growth occurring in these unpopulated agricultural areas, and planned their infrastructure based on that premise. In fact, I think it was otterpop who remarked elsewhere that many western towns were laid out on a hugely ambitious scale. Maybe it was simply hubris of the era, what with America being a rising power and Manifest Destiny occupying the public consciousness.
But then some of them thrived. Every big city out west started out as a settlement, then grew in stages into one of the "winners" that survived and grew. At some point someone laid out a street pattern. They used layouts from other cities they'd seen and used similar proportions. Most of the settlements shriveled up and died but some of the survivors grew into towns of various sizes. Why did Omaha or Oklahoma City or Terra Haute or Wichita grow when others didn't? Could the original settlers have known, and have picked only prime locations? There's some level of changing circumstance, good and bad fortune, and perseverance in all these settlements and towns which together determined which grew into a Fort Worth and which withered into a Dunning.

Interestingly, some were quite successful early and then died, or were surpassed by neighboring towns. Many mining camps became raucous settlements but then died into ghost towns when a mine was played out. Cities built along rivers which saw initial success were eventually eclipsed when the railroad was built. Railroad towns faded when the Interstate bypassed them. But to say the dreams of the founders of all these towns were overly ambitious about future growth would be a mistake. In many cases early townspeople could not have known that the future would favor (or curse) the location where they decided to establish their homes.
 
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