Homestead I am drawn to the abandoned homesteads of the desert West not only for their beauty and glorious decay but also for what they represent in our human nature. Many staked their hopes and dreams for a better life on these barren plots of land while others succumbed to the less noble of human traits; greed. The latter saw this as an opportunity to profit from a well-intentioned government policy by creating a land monopoly. These profiteers had no intention of occupying the shacks they built but instead built as many as they could with the intention of usurping land, water and mineral rights. No matter what their motivations were in the end few realized their dreams in this harsh land and soon relinquished their cabins to the desert elements. The "Small Tract Act" adopted in 1938 was one of the last homestead acts passed by the U.S. Congress and the desert West was one of the last places in the "lower 48" where the government granted free homesteads to anyone who was willing to improve the land. The government's goal was to distribute 457,000 acres of desert that the Bureau of Land Management deemed "disposable". Under amendments to the act, homesteaders were granted a deed only if they built a structure with dimensions not less than 12 by 16 feet. No water or power was required. By the time the act was repealed in 1976, about 36% of the land was privately owned. The rest is federally protected desert. Though I have endeavored to convey the physical beauty of a grand human effort, what remains out of reach are the many secrets these structures protect.