'Gone Country' No More?
It doesn't appear that country is where people want to be anymore. Seems as if though more and more farms are selling out to bigger conglomerates, and kids that are off to college - never come back to the small town life again. Take this small county in Kansas, which one of its newest business is a gravestone maker. Smith County is fading away slowly, as are many other country areas across the Midwest.
Smith County, a land of flat prairie, is the geographic center of the 48 contiguous U.S. states (close to Lebanon, Kansas), marked by a small monument and picnic ground. Once a dominant high school football team, the County football team had their nation-long winning streak snapped at 79 games back in 2009.
Smith County also has the distinction of experiencing one of the state's steadiest population declines, more than 17 percent in nine years. Its population of 3,753, according to a 2009 U.S. census estimate, is less than when the county was organized in 1872.
Smith County is not alone in the loss of population in recent years. Rural counties across the Midwest averaged a 5.1 percent population loss between 2000 and 2009, according to Liesl Eathington, an economist who studies Midwest population trends at Iowa State University. Kansas and Nebraska had the highest average losses at just over 11 percent.
From an economic standpoint, small towns like this - once thriving with small businesses and successful farming - could eventually empty out, leaving behind acres of farming, housing, and memories of a one time small American town full of fellowship. Look for, in the coming decades, the 'Big City' life to get bigger as people struggle to latch on to resources, keep pace with the 'Technological Era', which will all but vaporize the small town, making way for commerical farming and more 'mega malls'.