Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1992


Published in Great Plains Research 2:2 (August 1992), pp. 163-163. Copyright © 1992 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


Most Americans possess an image of the Great Plains derived, I suspect, from a high-speed window. The interstate highways, those great passing through routes, provide constricted views; I-80, for example, trapped in the Platte River Valley across much of Nebraska, leads one to think of the Plains as flat. The image from 30,000-plus feet is no less informative, to the untrained observer, of the web of life below; even the giant circles of the center pivots bespeak large empty spaces. Neither viewing platform is sufficient to reveal the intricacies of the Plains, let alone the concerns of those who live here. When Frank Popper and Deborah Popper published their analysis showing a large number of distressed counties in the Great Plains, it was probably a conditioned evocation of such superficial images that enabled them to suggest a policy of planned depopulation and return to a "Buffalo Commons."