From Boomtown to Bust

I’m currently working on a continuity with three other authors about a boomtown in Kansas following the American Civil War. The westward expansion following the war created many boomtowns. Often there was a natural resource like lumber or gold nearby that instigated the growth. Boomtowns are special places with their own unique set of problems. Recently in America, we’ve seen an example of a boomtown in Williston, North Dakota.

Between 2010 and 2013 the town’s population exploded from around 14k to more than 20k people. That’s a big increase in population! The rapid expansion led to social, cultural and infrastructure difficulties. The current problems with Williston mirror the problems of the past.  As towns struggle with the influx of people, there are often shortages of doctors, healthcare facilities, housing and recreational activities.

boomtown

Then there’s the social issues. Some people profit from the influx of people – while others notice a deteriorating quality of life. A shortage of supplies can often lead to unrest and even violence.

While writing my story, I have to keep all the social aspects in mind. At best, a boomtown can expect a plateau when the resources are exhausted. Other owns experience a bust. Even 150 years after the gold mining boom, we are still struggling with the basic social difficulties of a rapidly expanding population.

I live in a little town on the edge of a larger city. In the seven years I’ve lived in my town, the population has almost doubled. Many people are resentful of the ‘newcomers’ while others are happy to see their businesses grow. Raising three children, I’ve watched schools grow overcrowded while waiting for another school to be built.

Have you ever lived in a boomtown? What was your experience?

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Sherri Shackelford
A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul. Write to Sherri at P.O. Box 116, Elkhorn, NE, 68022, email at sherri@sherrishackelford.com or visit sherrishackelford.com.
Updated: February 23, 2015 — 8:28 am

7 Comments

  1. The part of town I am in now was already pretty much grown by the time I moved out here. But I have watched the little town next to us grow and it’s sad to see. There used to be a lot of farmland and several cattle ranches. It has grown to where farmland is being bought out and houses built on it. It’s sad to watch what I loved so much disappear.

  2. Hi Sherri,
    Interesting post! I too live in a small town (village) that is growing due to its excellent school district. We just got our first traffic light a few years back and my husband said—time to move. I’m so glad we didn’t. I love the “smallness.” It has a wonderful sense of neighborliness.

    Oh–I checked out your new website–its lovely!

  3. Well no boom town for me. I remember once asking my dad, long ago, if he thought Omaha would ever grow all the way out to us.
    His response….”If it does, if towns get that big, I think we’ll be in a lot of trouble.”

  4. When I was younger I lived in a small rural community just outside of Jackson, MS. Now that town has no bounderies of it’s own. The town limits of the little town have pushed right into the expanded city limits of Jackson. It is kind of sad to see that the little town has completely disappeared.

    1. It is sad when you lose that ‘hometown’ feel!

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