Home > Mediterranean Archaeology in North Dakota > Abandoned Landscapes in North Dakota Part 2

Abandoned Landscapes in North Dakota Part 2

One my first blog posts talked about my drive across North Dakota on the Hi-Line from North of Bismarck to Grand Forks.  I noted the abandoned landscape of the state — the empty towns, abandoned farmsteads, lonely churches — and contrasted it with the rising prosperity of the states inhabitants over the last century.  The contrast suggested to me that our understanding of abandonment and decline in the modern era is sometimes tempered by the rise in prosperity particularly in the Western world.  The result is a fantastically complex landscape where new and old stand together with hopes and past failures highlighting a whole range of abandonments

The January 2008 issue of National Geographic features a story by Charles Bowden that captures some of the same themes.  It is accompanied by a fascinating photo essay on abandonment in North Dakota.  The photos reflect the complexity of abandonment in North Dakota (and as phenomenon) where towns slowly fade away while preserving hints of episodic reuse.  The photos also document the kinds of things that people leave behind.  The wedding dresses, books, furniture, toys, cars all form the archaeological assemblage that will define this time and these places in the future.

Abandoned houses in Western Macedonia

  1. petey
    January 18, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Haunting, moving to see the images on National Geographic. Everytime I visit my father’s village in the Southern Pelloponese, near Sparta, I feel this way. Only a few people remain in the village where he was born. The vast majority of the houses have been forgotten and the roofs are caving in. The population steadily declined as most people moved away in search of a better (or different) life in far away countries or large cities. The ones who remained got older, and most have passed away. The footpaths are weed covered, the concrete near the church steps is cracking… And so time goes on.

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