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53 N.D. L. Rev. 401 (1976-1977)
Some Social Consequences of Boom Towns

handle is hein.journals/nordak53 and id is 379 raw text is: SOME SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF BOOM TOWNS
Both the history and myths of the American West have contrib-
uted to the contemporary view of boom towns.' The popular con-
ception of Virginia City, Nevada, and Leadville, Colorado, for in-
stance, is that they and other towns like them were wide-open and
free, with few restrictions placed on individual prerogatives. Another
misconception is that formal social control mechanisms such as po-
lice and courts were either absent or ineffectual. Nevertheless good
(with the aid of a few dedicated citizens) always triumphs over
evil in such fantasies. These notions, while inaccurate, are at least
consistent with the generally held American belief that hard work
conquers adversity.
Unfortunately, romantic images of boom towns fostered by mov-
ies and television are at odds with current reality. Communities such
as Conrad, Forsyth and Colstrip, Montana; Center, North Dakota;
Rock Springs and Green River, Wyoming; and Page, Arizona, tes-
tify to their decidely unromantic nature. For example, after study-
ing boom growth in Rock Springs and Green River, Wyoming, Gil-
more concluded: The energy boom town in the western United
States is apt to be a bad place to live. It's apt to be a bad place to
do business.''2
Before discussing the issues and problems associated with boom
growth, it is necessary to examine the factors which determine
whether or not a community should be classified as a boom town.
Any difficulty in identifying an extant boom town is primarily con-
ceptual rather than empirical. Even untrained observers can read-
ily identify most communities suffering from the boom syndrome;
it is only in marginal instances that conceptual clarification is nec-
essary for identification after the boom phenomenon has occurred.
However, conceptual rigor is essential if boom communities are to
* Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Utah State University; B.S., 1963,
University of Utah; Ph.D., 1971, University of Oregon.
The research reported in this paper was supported in part by grant number EnV
76-04849 to the Sociology Subproject of the Lake Powell Research Project from the Re-
gional Environmental Systems Program of Research Applied to National Needs (RANN)
of the National Science Foundation..
1. See generally Gurian, The Make-up of a Mining Town, 4 JOUR. OF THE WEST 97
(1965) ; Lavender, Thie Wondrous Town: This Instant City, 4 AMER. WEST 4 (1967);
Mann, The Decade After the Gold Rush: Social Structure in Grass Valley and Nevada City,
California, 1950-1960, 41 PAc. I-LIST. REV. 448 (1972).
2. Gilmore, Boom Towns May Hinder Energy Development, 191 SCIENCE 535, 535 (1976).

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