Bonus: Reversing Ghost Town(ing)

Bonus: Reversing Ghost Town(ing)

In the process of reporting on rural decline, we discovered an underground movement of people thinking hard about how to help small towns revitalize. We partnered with the Rural America Chamber of Commerce to host a live virtual event, bringing some of these problem-solvers together. The result was an inspiring and clear-eyed conversation. In this episode, we bring you the highlights. (more…)

The Fine Art Of Coexisting: Ghost Town(ing) Part 12

The Fine Art Of Coexisting: Ghost Town(ing) Part 12

In the final chapter of Ghost Town(ing), host Melodie Edwards revisits her parents’ decision about whether to move away from Walden. Her mom has been trying to lure her dad away with all sorts of stratagems. But there’s a lot about the craziness of 2020 that entrenched him even deeper. (more…)

Small Town Democracy: Ghost Town(ing) Part 11

Small Town Democracy: Ghost Town(ing) Part 11

Small town politics has a lot to teach us about how fragile democracy is right now. In Walden, we sit in on a beautification committee meeting and see how hard it is to make change happen–and how rural struggles are reflected in American democracy writ large. (more…)

Mountains In The Rearview Mirror: Ghost Town(ing) Part 10

Mountains In The Rearview Mirror: Ghost Town(ing) Part 10

The out-migration of rural youth is one of America’s great migrations–even the history books are calling it that. Younger generations leave because they have a need to feel connected to the great, big world out there. And as that world becomes more connected through the internet, small towns like Walden feel even more isolated. But would they come home if there was more equality in rural broadband? (more…)

Immigrations, Interrupted: Ghost Town(ing) Part 9

Immigrations, Interrupted: Ghost Town(ing) Part 9

Right now, the West is struggling to diversify its economy. But would our economy have already been diversified if a greater diversity of people had been allowed to make their homes here? How the history of racial erasure has hurt small towns, and how welcoming newcomers could turn that around. (more…)

A Tale Of Two Towns: Ghost Town(ing) Part 8

A Tale Of Two Towns: Ghost Town(ing) Part 8

Some former Southern enslaved people and their descendants followed the American dream westward, where they created towns to homestead together. This is a tale of two of those towns—on either side of the Wyoming-Colorado border—and what today’s small towns now can learn from their stories. (more…)

The Garden On The Prairie: Ghost Town(ing) Part 7

The Garden On The Prairie: Ghost Town(ing) Part 7

Many places in the American West are becoming food deserts, where it’s hard to get healthy food. Sometimes that’s because people can’t afford it or because it means driving long distances. And for really isolated places, sometimes it’s because of both. Now, a group of ladies in Wyoming’s struggling coal country are working on a plan to solve hunger there. (more…)

The Doctor In The Screen: Ghost Town(ing) Part 6

The Doctor In The Screen: Ghost Town(ing) Part 6

Living in a pandemic doesn’t have many plus sides to it. But there is one bright side for rural America. Telehealth is finally getting to flex its muscles. But adjusting to technology isn’t easy for older patients, and that’s one thing small towns have lots of: senior citizens. So, we take a trip to Sheridan, Wyoming to see how well telehealth is working for veteran Ron Loporto. (more…)

Gabby’s Story: Ghost Town(ing) Part 5

Gabby’s Story: Ghost Town(ing) Part 5

The rural West has been seeing a steeper and steeper decline into despair, especially among white men. But when a Vietnam vet’s mental breakdown threatens the safety of Walden, the small town has a response that neighborhoods everywhere could learn from. (more…)

The Environmental Billionaire: Ghost Town(ing) Part 4

The Environmental Billionaire: Ghost Town(ing) Part 4

2020 feels apocalyptic. It’s not just the pandemic; there’s also drought, mega-fires, melting glaciers. Meanwhile, the ultra-wealthy are stockpiling land, buying up small family ranches across the Mountain West. It makes you wonder, is it really a good idea to put that much environmental control in the hands of so few? (more…)

A Stranger Comes To Town: Ghost Town(ing) Part 3

A Stranger Comes To Town: Ghost Town(ing) Part 3

The West has long been a haven for the ultra-wealthy. Sometimes, they move into small towns with the aim of revitalizing them. But in Walden, Colorado, one wealthy businessman’s plans went awry, with dire consequences for the community. (more…)

Bust Town: Ghost Town(ing) Part 2

Bust Town: Ghost Town(ing) Part 2

Why are we so fascinated by old ghost towns? And what can they teach us? We go looking for the ghosts of an old silver mining community called Teller City to see if they have any lessons for how the nearby town of Walden, Colorado can keep from falling into the same cycles of boom and bust. (more…)

“You Can’t Eat The View”: Ghost Town(ing) Part 1

“You Can’t Eat The View”: Ghost Town(ing) Part 1

Years ago, small towns like Walden, Colorado were vibrant. Street dances, a health food store, a movie theatre, the works. At least, that’s how host Melodie Edwards remembers it from her childhood. Now it’s shrinking, part of the “ghost towning” of the American West. But can communities like Walden find a way to survive? Or will Melodie’s parents be forced to move away, like so many others? (more…)

Ghost Town(ing) Digital Postcards

Ghost Town(ing) Digital Postcards Download our Ghost Town(ing) postcards, with original art by Sarah Ortegon and Abigail Schneider, inspired by what ghost towns mean to them. Send these postcards to your friends and family on social media or by email. Add your message...
Season 2: Ghost Town(ing) Trailer

Season 2: Ghost Town(ing) Trailer

They say those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So what can Old West ghost towns teach us about today’s shrinking rural towns? Starting September 16, we’ll take you to the windswept prairie where towns once stood and to new ghost towns in the making. We’re exploring rural decline and resilience, and asking, why does it matter if America’s small towns disappear? (more…)

Stranger On The Side Of The Road: Cowboy Up Part 1

Stranger On The Side Of The Road: Cowboy Up Part 1

In 1892, Wyoming hosts its first execution and it’s a teenage boy named Kansas Charley. His trial causes a big national debate: is Charley a hardened criminal or a neglected child? It’s a question we still haven’t answered in the American West, where children are incarcerated in greater numbers than anywhere else. We also hear from a modern-day Kansas Charley who’s living out his days in Wyoming’s prisons who says, growing up, no one ever asked him the simple question: do you need help?

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Series

Series The Modern West seeks out the people who still believe that the West is the native home of hope. We’re digging deep, searching out diverse perspectives that recognize not only the origin stories of this place but also its darkest days. The Great Individualist A...
Bonus: Reframing Rural

Bonus: Reframing Rural

If you loved our Ghost Town(ing) series, check out Reframing Rural. Host Megan Torgerson takes you to her Montana homeland and introduces us to all sorts of people we usually don’t hear from. Like in this episode, where high school history teacher and Chippewa descendent Eddie Hentges talks about the challenges of teaching in a small town. (more…)

About

Exploring The Evolving Identity Of The American West “A vivid, engaging series” – The New Yorker Winner of a 2020 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary, The Modern West takes listeners on a sound-rich journey into some of America’s most iconic...