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Illinois, The Prairie State

Also my home state and by default the state I have traveled through the most. When it comes to farming the states in the Midwest do it better than just about any other.

With mostly flat terrain, prized soil and plenty of water, Illinois is at the top each year for corn & soybean production. Throw in hogs, cattle and dairy production and you wouldn’t think there would be as many vacant properties as there are. But driving through many small towns during the 1990s & 2000s, Main Streets were emptying out more and more.

While in recent years I’ve found several of the old farms I would photograph have been torn down and the land is being put to use. Most often it’s been because of suburban sprawl. I will admit finding an abandoned, or not in use property has become more difficult here than in other states and I have seen some smaller towns with a revitalized central district, but schools continue to consolidate as rural enrollment drops. So whether it’s just the beginning of a resurgence, or an effect of a boom in corn prices because of bio fuels is unknown.

Images from Illinois

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?

•Do you know of a small town (under 2,000 people) that is a shell of it’s former self?

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