Rural Reporting Project

Texas has the largest rural population of any state — 3.8 million people — yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country. The Observer has made reporting on rural Texas a priority with this long-term project. Staff writer Christopher Collins, who has investigated how crop dusting is putting Texans’ health at risk and the connection between destructive Panhandle wildfires and a mismanaged federal land program, is spearheading the effort from West Texas.

 

Scenes from a Rural Hospital’s Final Day

by and | Mon, Nov 11, 2019 at 6:00 CST
Chillicothe Hospital closed its doors on July 22. Its closure reverberated through the community in both expected and surprising ways.
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Critical Condition

Rural health care is in crisis around the country, but Texas is suffering the most. At least 20 small-town hospitals have closed since 2013.

a Texas Observer Special Investigation Critical Condition Rural health care is in crisis around the country, but Texas is suffering the most. At least 20 small-...Read More

The now-vacant hospital in Mount Vernon. by and

A Dying Town

When a rural hospital dies, the community around it starts to follow suit.

Critical Condition: part 1 A Dying Town When a rural hospital dies, the community around it starts to follow suit. + + + by Christopher Collins and Sophie Novac...Read More

The Martin Lake power plant in Tatum. by

The Creature of Martin Creek Lake Won’t Die

The Martin Lake coal plant in East Texas is the biggest sulfur dioxide polluter in the nation. And unlike other regional super-polluters, this one is still chugging along.

From above, the Creature takes the shape of a spider: Its eyes are smokestacks, its legs spindly railways stretching from the semicircle of clearcut pines into ...Read More

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Goodbye to the Amarillo Art Mall

After 14 years, the artist colony inside a former Amarillo shopping mall is being laid to rest. Now the Panhandle creative-types who called the place home “are just gonna get scattered.”

It was a fine funeral for the fine arts. In early August, the denizens of Sunset Center, a 1960s-era shopping mall in northwest Amarillo that found a second lif...Read More

Painter Matthew Bourbon's exhibit Waiting for Now was part of the museum's Cell Series this year. by

Little Arthouse on the Prairie

In tiny Albany, Texas, you can’t shop at Walmart or buy a beer, but you can see one of the state’s best and quirkiest art collections.

Little Arthouse on the Prairie In tiny Albany, Texas, you can’t shop at Walmart or buy a beer, but you can see one of the state’s best and quirkiest art col...Read More

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