Bridging the Distance

Common Issues of the Rural West

Bridging the Distance examines a number of the problems and prospects of the rural West that have largely been neglected by scholars. The issues are considered in four sections—Defining the Rural West, Community, Economy, and Land Use—each with an introduction by editor David Danbom. The essays highlight factors that set the region apart from the rest of the country and provide varied perspectives on challenges faced by those living in often isolated areas. Contributors cover matters such as a hazing incident that divided a small Colorado town and the effects of media coverage; challenges in areas of Montana and Wyoming where the ideas of new exurbanites regarding natural resources differ from those of long-time residents; conflict between surface water and ground water users in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska; and the shortcomings of health care among Latino immigrants in rural California. Essays on rural economy suggest how states can better use fiscal policies to advance long-term economic health and how resources can be exploited in ways that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. On the question of land use, one essay shares the viewpoint of a ranching family in Nevada that has long struggled with the government over grazing cattle on federal lands. Another examines the case of the Goshute Indians of Skull Valley, whose efforts to use their reservation for nuclear waste storage roused the ire of the state of Utah.

The essays in Bridging the Distance are fresh, informative, and insightful examinations of the complex problems facing the rural West. This is a book that will spur both conversations and the search for solutions. 

David B. Danbom is the Fargo Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Dakota State University, where he taught for 36 years. He has authored six books, most recently Born in the Country: A History of Rural America and Sod Busting: How Families Made Farms on the 19th-Century Plains.

Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations and Tables
Foreword – David M. Kennedy
Introduction – David B. Danbom

Finding the Rural West – Jon K. Lauck
Conquering Distance? Broadband and the Rural West – Geoff McGhee

Too Close for Comfort: When Big Stories Hit Small Towns – Judy Muller
On Water and Wolves: Toward an Integrative Political Ecology of the “New” West – J. Dwight Hines
Irrigation Communities, Political Cultures, and the Public in the Age of Depletion – Burke W. Griggs
Health Disparities among Latino Immigrants Living in the Rural West – Marc Schenker

Energy Development Opportunities and Challenges in the Rural West – Mark N. Haggerty and Julia H. Haggerty
The New Natural Resource Economy: A Framework for Rural Community Resilience – 
Michael Hibbard and Susan Lurie

The Angry West: Understanding the Sagebrush Rebellion in Rural Nevada – Leisl Carr Childers
Skull Valley Goshutes and the Politics of Place, Identity, and Sovereignty in Rural Utah – David Rich Lewis

Selected Bibliography

Praise and Reviews:
“This book represents current thinking across a variety of disciplines regarding the rural West. It is up-to-date and offers a fresh look at current challenges facing the region. By combining data with thoughtful reflections and proposals the book provides a foundation for further investigation and
—Brian Q. Cannon, co-editor of Immigration to the Far West and co-author of The Awkward State of Utah: Coming of Age in the Nation, 18961945

Bridging the Distance is an intriguing book that approaches the problems and concerns of isolated western communities from a variety of perspectives. It is highly recommended for interested readers and post-secondary classroom use, especially for courses in history, political science, and community planning. This collection is a welcome corrective to the assumption that urban spaces have a monopoly on all that is interesting and useful in America.”
South Dakota History

“Several stellar essays detail the social, cultural, economic, political, and technological structures that perpetuate tensions [in the rural West].”
Pacific Northwest Quarterly

“The multidiscipline case study approach effectively conveys the complexity of the region. Furthermore, every one of the essays directly relates to the issue of distance. Readers learn how rural westerners overcame some problems associated with distance and how they failed to resolve many other problems. Scholars interested in addressing common issues of the Midwest should pay close attention to Bridging the Distance and draw inspiration from its success.”
Middle West Review