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America’s Heartland…

Posted by on September 23, 2017

MANSFIELD, MISSOURI. As we trek across America from East to West, we find ourselves today in Mansfield, Missouri. Only about three hundred families live here. We’re still in the Ozarks. Highway signs blare: “Abortion is murder!” Streets have names like Hickory Hollow and Cemetery Road. A gunmetal water tower announces the town’s name. “Rick’s Quality Used Car Lot” lures customers with a string of multi-colored triangle-shaped flags flapping in the breeze. The lot is on Main Street. Of course. Baptist churches are everywhere. It doesn’t seem as if there are enough people to fill the pews on Sunday mornings. Everyone in “Ma and Pa’s Diner” knows each other. They’re polite to us but a bit skeptical of Californians. There’s a gas pump outside. A tractor driving down the road slows traffic. The town is very quiet.


Main St and Town Square of Mansfield, Missouri.



Rocky Ridge Farm, in Mansfield, Missouri. This is where the “Little House on the Prairie” books were written. The Laura Wilder Museum is next door. It’s closed. We’re parked in a grassy field nearby, where Molly has lots of room to run. She loves it here.  


LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Laura Ingalls Wilder was an American writer known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books, released between 1932 and 1943, which were based on Wilder’s childhood in a settler and pioneer family. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the television series “Little House on the Prairie” was loosely based on the Little House books, and starred Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls and Michael Landon as her father, Charles Ingalls. 



Rural Missouri in America’s Heartland.


AMERICA’S HEARTLAND. This is middle America, a casual term for the United States heartland. The term is generally used as both a geographic and cultural label, suggesting a Central United States small town or suburb where most people are middle class, Evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant or Catholic. These are white folks. Hard work, simplicity and honesty are highly valued. As a cultural label, mid-America is contrasted with the more culturally progressive urban areas of the country, particularly those of the East and West coasts. Conservative, family values are typical of Middle America, although larger cities and major university cities are exceptions. Accordingly, many of the political battleground states are located in this part of our country. The economy is traditionally agricultural. Home prices are very low and economic disparities between folks are less pronounced than on the coasts. 


We’re in Middle America, “America’s Heartland.” The way of life and political climate here is as different from San Diego as “night and day.” Life is slow and measured. Everyone drives a dirty pickup truck. A few cows resting under an oak tree swish their tails to discourage the flies. There’s not much to do. Walmart is about 25 miles distant, and folks drive there just for an outing. 


Rural Missouri in America’s Heartland.


Typical scene “just outside of town.”


NEXT STOP: CHERRYVALE, KANSAS. By tomorrow evening, we’ll be in Cherryvale, Kansas…almost twice the size of Mansfield. Whowhooo! But it’ll no doubt be an interesting stop because it’s the home of Sam Avey, the wrestling promoter! (In Cherryvale, it’s a bit of a stretch to find notable people from the area!) However, and this may be the town’s saving grace for me, it’s also headquarters for the South Kansas and Oklamoma Railroad, a shortline that runs 511 miles of track in Kansas and Oklahoma. No kidding, those of you who have followed me on our journey for the last four years know that I’m a true “rail-hound,” a “train buff.” (Look on the “topic list” at the right of this page in blue print and click on “railroad” to see some of my railway posts.) So we’ll hope for the best. Plan to join us…you never know what you’ll find in the tiny towns of America’s Heartland. I’ll see you again in a few days.



I’ll continue my story next time.




3 Responses to America’s Heartland…

  1. Maxfield Allen

    The ozarks are beautiful. And the small towns are all unique… as are many of the folks that live there. Quite a cross section of America. Sounds like a great a adventure you are on. Enjoy!

  2. Jon York

    I love those rural areas. Nice photos.

  3. Greg Alford

    You guys are right…each of the small towns in these rural areas has its own personality. And what has also surprised us is that there are historical places of interest everywhere, no matter how far from the beaten trail we travel.

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