Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pie in the sky

The history of homesteading in America began with the Homestead Act of 1862 and continued through 1950s mostly in Alaska and the great barrens of Southern California. In the Homestead Act of 1938 five acre patches of the Morongo Valley east of Twentynine Palms were leased to the delusional for $5.00 and the pledge to develop the land in the most minimal way. For most that was to build a simple cabin or buy one pre-built for $1,000 or so. Water, alas, was not as easily accessed and at the sole expense of said lessee. For those who created a habitable abode a “Patent”, a kind of ownership, was awarded. 

It should be no surprise that the vast majority of these homesteads have become feral denizens of the unforgiving desert. A few survive today and can be had for $30,000 or $40,000 complete with water, electric and A/C.

If there is a community hub for this vast aridness it is Wonder Valley where there’s a bar and restaurant that looked like it could actually function though there’s no guarantee of that. 

Of homesteading in general the intrepid John Wesley Powell proffered that it’s a pretty good idea when there’s sufficient water and land to support a family unit but that west of say the longitude of central Texas you're selling folks some pie in the sky and world of hurt.


Blacks Crossing said...

Pie in the sky is perfect. These heart-wrenching photographs remind me so of the sagebrush mesa along Highway 64 between Tres Piedras and Taos, where people can still purchase land for what these days is a song, and move in a school bus full of broken dreams. Thank you for documenting part of the human condition.

John Farnsworth said...

You've done it again, Steve. This is where you shine. I don't know how I missed your last post, folowing Cuba and the sheep, but that, too, was a winner. More, please.

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