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The Changing Rural Landscape of Odin Township, Minnesota

Authors: Christopher Laingen*, Eastern Illinois University
Topics: Rural Geography, Land Use, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: rural landscapes, rural population change, abandoned farms
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: Download



Twenty years ago, as an undergraduate geography student at South Dakota State University, I mapped abandoned farms in four townships in Watonwan County, Minnesota. The impetus of this study was realizing, that within a one-mile radius of my family’s farm, four once-functional farms had been entirely erased from the landscape. Using U.S. Department of Agriculture aerial photography from 1950, along with fieldwork in 1999, I mapped the status of contemporary farm sites – whether they were still being lived in, or if they had been abandoned or demolished – with what their status was in 1950. In 2019 I revisited my study area to update what I had first mapped twenty years prior. This poster will report what has changed regarding the status of farms as well as an investigation into the increasingly common situation of absentee farmland ownership – a direct result of the loss of farms from the agricultural landscape. These local-scale, historical patterns and trends will be used as a case-study to illustrate trends occurring at regional and national scales related to rural population change and the continued industrialization and globalization of Corn Belt agriculture.

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