Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dry Land Farming

Sleepy Sudan Texas sits astride US 84 between Lubbock and the New Mexico border.  Sleepy is the operative word on a somnolent March morning.   You know it’s a backwater when the nearest city is called Muleshoe.  Gotta love that moniker.  The towering grain elevators that dominate the town are dormant.   A solitary pick-up creeps along Main Street in a scene right out of Bogdonovitch’s The Last Picture Show.  That film was made in 1971.  In Sudan it still is.

In 1892 the owners of the 77 ranch granted Lamb County the site for a town.  The town’s first postmaster P.F. Boesen named it Sudan for reasons lost in history.   The dusty burg limped along with a population of six lonely souls until in 1913 the Santa Fe Railroad built a spur through Sudan on the way from Lubbock to Clovis.  There soon followed a hotel, a cotton gin and grain elevators and by 1925 several hundred farmers, pickers and ranchers had settled in Sudan. 

A scant 14 inches of rain evaporates on the South Plains of West Texas where Sudan persists.  Rarer still is a frosty brew or icy high ball on a blazing summer afternoon.  Most of Texas’s 40 dry counties lie in this parched patch of nowhere.  It’s the nightmare version of the American Dream; a thirsty Bible Belt of cotton, oil and cattle.

And did you know that Lubbock, a city of 250,000 an hour away and the home of Texas Tech University was dry until May of 2009?  Matriculation without lubrication.  Jeez.


Daryl A. Black said...

Your photographs show the emptiness, for better or worse, of the sleepy New Mexico/Texas border towns. But your prose is absolutely inspired. Perhaps a book in this study???? Nice work, Steve!

Steve Immel said...

Thanks Daryl. Gotta plan our next adventure. S

John Snyder said...

Sudan is certainly an apt name. A bit of worn Arabic signage and a rougher street and it could be, well, Sudan.

There are so many stories and ghosts on these streets. It suggests that there may have been better times here, but were there?

Your images are evokotive and as always, masterfully executed.