A Less Conspicuous Landscape: A Local Study of Soil Conservation, Rural Progress, and Photography

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Grandey, Savannah Ashton
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Middle Tennessee State University
The nature of natural resource conservation can obscure the impact of the people and organizations behind such activities because it creates landscapes that seem "natural." The impact of New Deal soil conservation in rural America is found in farm ponds, planned forests, and other seemingly natural landscape features. Cannon County, Tennessee and its local conservation district provide a case study to analyze the role of the SCS, local conservation districts, and farmers in modernizing local agricultural and transforming landscapes. Photographs documenting the evolution of the county's landscape and farm culture during the middle of the twentieth century provide valuable points of departure for researching and interpreting this part of New Deal, agricultural, and local history. The photos also suggest the paradoxical nature of farmers' participation in agricultural change, depicting them as progressive preservationists that changed in order to maintain their lifestyles which resulted in the coexistence of change and tradition.
Agriculture, Cannon county, New deal photography, Rural, Soil conservation districts, Soil conservation service