The Changing Prairie View

Newly-erected power lines, part of the Cap X2020 transmission line project northwest of Morgan along Minnesota State Highway 67, run seemingly into forever.

Newly-erected power lines, part of the Cap X2020 transmission line project northwest of Morgan along Minnesota State Highway 67, run seemingly into forever.

I feel about monstrosity power lines as I do about wind turbines. I don’t appreciate their visual impact upon the land.

These towering giants, in my opinion, mar the landscape, distract and detract, cause me to feel small, unsettled and insignificant in their presence.

A farm site along Minnesota State Highway 67 dwarfed by a new transmission power pole.

A farm site along Minnesota State Highway 67 dwarfed by a new transmission power pole.

Perhaps it’s just the southwestern Minnesota prairie rooted girl in me who values her horizon wide and broad and vertically interrupted only by grain elevators, water towers, silos and groves of trees.

Old style power lines still run along Brown County Road 29 between New Ulm and Morgan.

Old style power lines still run along Brown County Road 29 between New Ulm and Morgan.

I wonder if my grandparents felt the same about the early rural electric co-op poles and lines strung along gravel township roads, the cement stave silos popping up on farms…old water-pumping windmills abandoned.

A cluster of Harvestore silos define a farm northeast of Vesta along Minnesota State Highway 19.

A cluster of Harvestore silos define a farm northeast of Vesta along Minnesota State Highway 19.

I felt a certain discontent when blue Harvestore silos began soldiering into southwestern Minnesota decades ago. They lacked personality and represented, to me, the demise of the small family farm.

Wind turbines in extreme southwestern Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, July 2013.

Wind turbines in extreme southwestern Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, July 2013.

These are my thoughts as I travel through my native prairie today. Progress does not always please me. Visually or otherwise.

Photos © Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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5 Responses to The Changing Prairie View

  1. Jeff Klein May 14, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    I’ll grant you the power lines but not the turbines, which I think have a certain majesty and are contained to certain places. But I guess we’d better get used to it, lest we lose our prairie landscape to climate change instead.

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots May 14, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    I was just reading somewhere, and I wish I could recall the source, that wind turbines impact climate. True or not, I don’t know.

    If you’ve been in extreme southwestern Minnesota recently, you will see endless wind turbines upon the land. Where you see majesty, I see visual intrusion. We all view things differently.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller May 14, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      If we can’t intrude on open land, where can we put stuff?

  3. Austin May 14, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    The midwest skyline was once full of millions of birds and waterfowl. Not thousands, millions. flocks of passenger pigeons would block out the sun.These wide and broad horizons we see are a recent artifact, not a natural state. The loss of these birds must have been an even larger shock to the people living here back then. Amazing how only a few generations can move the needle on what we consider normal.

  4. Cobo Rodregas May 14, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    I was born raised and educated in the prairie lands of this great sate, and I like how the wind turbines look, because to me they mean progress. Something besides the corn and soybeans that dominate the fields.

    Farmland is not natural, the landscape that we love is completely artificial and man made. Some areas in the prairie may look untouched but practically all of it has been plowed under at some point, all the bison & passenger pigeons killed, all the sod cut up, trees planted, trees cut down, new grasses grow, farms grow, crops change, etc. The theme of the prairie for the last 250 years has been constant & drastic change.

    I know first hand how the death of a small family farm feels, but it can also be an unburdening.. I feel now that loosing the farm was the best thing to happen to my family. My parents bounced back from financial ruin by embracing new careers and were able to become solidly middle class for the first times in their lives. Me and my siblings were encouraged to travel the world, and find our own callings. For the most part we are all better off now than we could have been if we still had that farm.

    Change may not always be for the better, but can be, give it a chance.

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