The High Plains area dissected by Highway 83 has always been, and is still in many ways, a “next year” land. Next year, the rain will come back, next year the grain prices will rise, next year credit will be more available; next year, if we can just make it to next year.
Much of the areas’ history is one of unfulfilled dreams, unmet expectations. Yet, even in the most depressed areas, I consistently found from one end of the thoroughfare to the other, hope. Even after over 100 years of hardships, men and women seeking a better life are still drawn to the High Plains. In the new millennium the oil fields and the packing plants have taken the place of the homesteads and the railroads, but the magnetic appeal of a better life has not changed. Juxtaposed side by side, both optimism and disappointment define the rich family history of today’s descendants of the area’s original 19th century pioneering homesteaders.
Family roots on Highway 83 run deep. An obscure quote from a 1915 High Plains newspaper editorial I stumbled upon succinctly sums up these contrasting dynamics, highlighting the resolve so abundant amongst the both past and present hardened survivors: “We should be thankful....... that we are still living to try again.”