In a column on The American Conservative’s website, photojournalist Vincent David Johnson explores the decline of the American farm town. His photos show the results of an urbanization trend in America that has sapped rural farm towns of their population and economic vigor. Debbie and I have witnessed much of the same on our many trips through rural towns on Eastern seaboard. The decline of rural America is one part of what propelled Donald Trump to victory in 2016 as I explained here.
Johnson writes that for every person who loves their small farm town, there are many more who have moved away for better opportunities.
For 23 years I have been driving country roads, photographing the ruins of rural America for a documentary I call “Lost Americana.” As population decline claims town after town, I’ve been talking to those who remain. Whether it’s in the place I’m photographing or in the cities where I’m showing my photos, all conversations lead to the same question: “How do you stop it?” The simple answer is, you can’t.
If you are already feverishly typing your reply about how your farm town is alive and well, chances are you’re probably not as rural as you think. That or you’re one of the lucky few who have a secondary economy that is keeping your area stable.
It’s a hard truth and I hope I’m wrong, but for every person claiming their farm town is still going strong, there are 20 others telling me how they miss the farm town they grew up in, but had to leave, as there was nothing left.
Read more and see some of Johnson’s photos here.