Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2001


Published in Great Plains Research 11:1 (Spring 2001). Copyright © 2001 Center for Great Plains Studies.


Without question, the federal government created the twentieth-century West. It built dams and distributed water to farmers and urbanites, constructed federal highways that permitted the development of the region's natural resources, established navy, army, and air force installations, and provided contracts for the post-World War II military-industrial complex and aerospace industry. By so doing, the federal government made an indelible imprint on the Western landscape, in much contrast to the nineteenth century when individual enterprise gave the region its economic, social, and political identity.