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Montana

Montana, Big Sky Country

One of the most naturally beautiful states I’ve visited. It’s contribution to agriculture is mostly cattle ranching. As the land is very arid, it was never very suitable for crops and even when the government was offering free land via the Homestead Act of 1862, they had very few takers. The 4th largest state, but 3rd for density, it averages 7 people per square mile. Basically it’s real easy to go for miles without seeing another person, or even buildings at times.

With a population that sparse it’s almost hard to include Montana as a place seeing decline, since it can be argued that they never really had a boom in farming. However, even out here since the days of the gold rush, ranching & wheat are still a main stay of the state economy.

While the state surpassed the one million point for its total population sometime around 2017, that growth was mainly in the western counties of Gallatin Missoula, Lewis & Clark, Flathead, and Yellowstone. Twenty-five counties have seen a growth rate of zero to -20% during the last two decades.

The growth since 2000 has spurred an increase in the number of jobs for Montanans, including over 6,000 jobs in each mining and construction, farm jobs retracted by 2,250 over the same time.

Images from Montana

Lost Americana is about telling the stories of the people who live in rural America.

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•Were you the last class to graduate from a rural school before it closed its doors forever?

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