The Western Transcendence

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The Western Transcendence

Driving through the vast lands in the American West is a humbling experience. The inhospitable terrain in Arizona can envelop you for hours with only the road for company, a seemingly unwelcoming and hostile environment to live in. Yet, Arizona is one of the fastest growing states in the nation. The idea of the American West transcends borders and even oceans. A concept that was bold in its reach and audacious in its implementation. The relative speed of new settlements and the scale of its supporting engineering endeavors were unprecedented and a crucial component in the formation of the West’s identity. The American West’s identity is elusive and complex, and at times static and dynamic, requiring a deep understanding and appreciation in order to interpret. Stegner embodies these characteristics and examines these factors while separating them into three broad categories that define the American West’s identity that ultimately will lead to its decline: aridity, environmental restructuring, and culture.

The majority of the west is arid and unable to facilitate the amount of crops or homesteads demanded by its population without the drastic manipulation of its water resources. This water manipulation enabled many more people to migrate toward the west than the land itself could handle. Arid lands became vast fertile farms. Opportunity for economic gain fueled greed, which required greater manipulation of its water resources. The disregard for the natural state of the environment brought about opportunistic projects and entrepreneurs yearning to extricate as much of this resource as possible. State, federal, and landowners were all fighting over the water resources.

Economic growth and power is the number one value in American culture and as such, places the natural resources of the land under the hand of manipulation in order to assist and make possible this growth. We built dams and reservoirs to...
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