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.
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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