In Defense of Rural America

a weekly column published every Sunday by
Ron Ewart, President of the

For the week of:
Sunday, June 30, 2019

The "In Defense of Rural America" column archives are available HERE.

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"Are There Any Mavericks Left In America?"
From * In Defense of Rural America *
By Ron Ewart, President
National Association of Rural Landowners
and nationally recognized author on freedom and property rights issues.
We are helping to spread freedom and liberty around the globe.
© Copyright Sunday June 30, 2019 - All Rights Reserved

"The kind of people I look for to fill top management spots are the eager beavers, the mavericks. These are the guys who try to do more than they're expected to do - they always reach."

Lee Iacocca

Sometime back we took in the big-screen IMAC show called "The Rocky Mountain Express". It told of the story of building the Canadian Pacific Railroad across the interior mountain ranges of British Columbia and finding a pass through the virtually impenetrable Rocky Mountains. While watching this documentary, the viewers were treated to a spectacular steam engine trip across the Canadian Pacific Line from Vancouver to Superior. The film described how one man, William Cornelius Van Horn, son of an Illinois dirt farmer, who rose in the ranks of railroading from the tender age of 14 when his formal schooling ceased, to become superintendent and general manager of emerging railroads in North America. A powerful figure of a man, this accomplished artist, violinist, and dedicated railroad engineer, was asked by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company, at the young age of 39, in the year 1882, to direct the construction of the transcontinental link from the harbor at Vancouver, British Columbia to Thunder Bay on Lake Superior.

An imposing figure with the seeming energy of 5 men, the mind of a true visionary and the drive to get things done no matter what lay in his path, built a railroad line across the mountainous interior of British Columbia and up and over and down the Rocky Mountains and across the southern prairies and wetlands of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Literally carved out of the sides of granite mountains, with looping tunnels, long, curving wood-frame bridges and perilous overhangs, Van Horn directed the construction of a railroad bed that most said could not be done. He finished the line in half the time he was given to complete construction. In one year he directed the laying of over 500 miles of track. That is one and a third miles per day, every day. However, in some areas of the right-of-way, the contractors and workers couldn't average more than 5 feet per day. In many of those areas the death toll was as high as 5 men per mile.

This was a time in North America where impossible things were accomplished by men of vision, cooperative governments and willing investors who saw the opportunities for opening up entire continents to growing populations. Telegraph lines paralleled railroad right-of-ways, extending communication across vast expanses of open territory. Messages and news flew across the land almost at the speed of light, where before it could take months by sea, or overland by pony express, or horse-drawn coaches. Towns were built up around the railroad lines to exploit almost limitless agricultural, mineral and timber resources, to build our growing nations. Time to cross the continent was reduced from several months to weeks or even days and a lot less dangerous.

People from the East poured into the midlands, the mountains and the Pacific coast by the hundreds of thousands and finally millions, anxious to take advantage of the many brand new opportunities that awaited them. They faced terrible hardships, injury, Indians, disease and death, but still they came and they came because of the courage, determination and vision of big men with big ideas. They came because of the mavericks who would not heel to the prevailing wisdom or the doubters, mavericks that opened up corridors of transportation and communication that were absolutely necessary for an expanding nation of free men and women. These railroads and telegraph lines were the arteries that carried the blood of commerce and the nerves of communication to the heart and soul of the North American continent.

During this time in our two great nations' history, there were mavericks in finance, steel, agricultural, construction, oil, mining, timber, sea-going sail and steamships, merchandise and a whole host of other commodities that were carried overland by the railroads. These mavericks became immensely wealthy because of the risks they took, the grand visions they held and the extraordinary determination to see those visions become reality.

In those mid to late years of the 19th century, America and Canada were the lands of the men who COULD and DID. These were the men of "YES WE CAN" and they did IT in spite of civil wars, recessions, strikes, declining finances, bankruptcies, fickle governments, corrupt politicians, the vagaries of ebbing and flowing markets and a myriad of other problems that plagued them as they moved forward towards the realization of the goals they set for themselves and others.

Government didn't get in the way then, like it does now. Government was a willing and eager participant. But none of what was done to build Canada and America could have been done in today's environmental regulatory climate. It would have been impossible. We have now become a nation of "NO WE CAN'T" because of those laws and regulations. It's almost impossible to build a pipeline across the heart of America because of irrational environmental concerns and the corruption of party politics.

These fearless mavericks of the 1800's were the leaders of men and others followed them because these men were going places and if you hung on tight, you might just go places too. Fortunes were made (and lost), not only by the builders of railroads, but by those that followed the railroads and set up shop along these two parallel ribbons of shiny steel that spanned a continent from sea to shining sea, steel that was forged in the great northern cities, cities that were built by other great men with vision.

Most of these mavericks were self-made and determined, as was William Van Horn. Many were ruthless without regard for human life and some were pure evil. They only saw their vision. They never saw the obstacles. They just rode over them because the pursuit of their vision blinded them to obstacles. There was always away around the obstacles and if they couldn't find a way, they would invent one. Many innocents died because of the visions of these determined men, but without those sacrifices, realizing these absolutely essential grand visions of transportation and communication corridors would probably have been impossible.

In retrospect, neither of our two nations could have grown at the pace we did, without such men. Both countries would have been stuck in a time warp, where there would have been no fortunes made, no large middle class, poverty would have been the norm and the growth of freedom would have been virtually impossible. Man is anything but free, if he must endure a perpetual hungry stomach.

There were other great men who came along in the Twentieth Century, like Henry Ford who gave us thousands of jobs and the affordable car and expanded exponentially, the mobility of the people of a growing nation to travel great distances. Other men of vision obliged with a new source of once-thought limitless fuel, pumped out of deep holes in the ground at great risk ..... crude oil! Government responded appropriately to this new mode of transportation by building an ever-expanding network of roads and bridges within cities, from city to city and from farms to markets.

Great inventors (mavericks) like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla gave us the light bulb and electricity to power our homes, factories and businesses. Advances in medicine extended our life times by several decades. War machines were invented that allowed us to be victorious in two world wars and smaller battles that some say we shouldn't have fought in the first place. These new technologies and vast raw materials allowed America to build the most powerful military machine that ever existed on this planet and it still will be if Democrats and environmentalists can be stopped from gutting it.

Technology literally exploded in the Twentieth and Twenty First Centuries. From the telephone, to radio, to television, to microwave relays, to computers, to cell phones, to laser beams, to satellites and to GPS, life in America and across the globe took on a pace never before seen in all of human history, mostly due to mavericks and men of vision. The planet was dramatically shrinking, literally by the day. The dreamers and visionaries in this technological expansion are too many to name here. Sadly, some of these technologies in the social media arena have turned out to be a detriment to progress, free speech and freedom itself and must be reined in.

The question raised by this column is, "Are There Any Mavericks Left In America?" Does America still have some individuals that will cross boundaries, tame frontiers and go where other men are afraid to go? Of course. But we have conquered the continents, we have discovered the passes through the mountains, tamed the frontiers and the wild, untapped land we once were. That wild land and that frontier no longer exist. All we can do now is fill in the gaps on earth, or go to the stars.

Nevertheless, there is a certain kind of maverick that is needed now more than ever. He is the leader of men and women who will fearlessly rush in to tear down political fences, break up cliques, challenge the prevailing wisdom, break a few rules and drive a wedge into the domain of the powerful establishment ..... in the name of freedom. His words will make the heart beat faster and when he tells those that will walk in his path to take a stand for liberty, they will not hesitate to take that stand. Some say that Trump is that man.

Throughout history, such men have risen in times of enormous strife, to lead others against a great challenge. During all of our wars, in small skirmishes or major battles, these men have risen out of nowhere to lead others to victory.

But where are they today? Why isn't America building great dams that provide electricity, irrigation and flood control, like we built the railroads and steel plants of the past? If more dams were built, the great floods in the mid west we experience every year, would be tamed to mere inconveniences.

Why aren't we building more nuclear power plants? France gets 75% of its power from nuclear energy.

China's long-range plans are to build 300 to 500 new coal-fired power plants by 2030. That equals one coal-fired power plant being built by China every week. They don't care about environmental concerns, climate change, or exploiting labor. They need power for a huge and growing population.

What is America doing? It's trying to shut down coal-fired power plants. It won't build dams or nuclear power plants. Instead we are building intermittent energy wind and solar farms that are not viable without government subsidies. America is shooting itself in the foot to the detriment of the American people and to the advantage of the rest of the world.

The mavericks, risk takers and investors are ready to build, but environmental laws have tied the maverick's hands. These insane environmental laws are based on the flawed science of climate change. Americans are being duped!

It takes both leaders and followers to save America from Socialist Democrats and radical environmentalists and leaders and followers are an integral part of any action towards that goal. A general without an army is impotent. If you are a leader, then take charge and lead. If you are a follower, then join us in the fight to expose corruption in America on a grand scale. Corruption has become a growing and infectious disease in government and is seriously limiting government's ability to function. Mostly government doesn't function efficiently because of corruption.

Exposing corruption will go a long way towards cleaning up the deep state and the corrupt establishment. Government will not clean up itself. Only the people can. If you are one of those individuals that is fully aware of the perils we face as a people and as a nation, please join with us in the fight to "Save the USA" and expose pervasive, wide-spread, government corruption by "Connecting the Crooked Dots". You can become an effective maverick for freedom in your own back yard. We'll show you how. Find that nugget of corruption that will send that politician, judge, or bureaucrat to jail, resign in disgrace, or lost to obscurity.

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Ron Ewart, a nationally known author and speaker on freedom and property issues and author of his weekly column, "In Defense of Rural America", is the President of the National Association of Rural Landowners, (NARLO) a non-profit corporation headquartered in Washington State and dedicated to restoring, maintaining and defending property rights for urban and rural landowners. He can be reached by e-mail for comment at or by 'phone at 1 800 682-7848.

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