This paper presents a historical perspective on contemporary development efforts in rural America's communication infrastructure. It is well known throughout the world that urban poverty and decay are lingering problems in America, sometimes leading to com parisons with the Third World. However, it is not as widely known that another "periphery" exists here, namely, the rural poor. This paper examines public discussions and decisions about how to deliver rural America from economic decline through the advances of the information age. Highlighted below are the conflicting interests between the long-term rural residents and the affluent new class which stands to gain as "information highways" enable the latter to live and work in remote areas and enjoy a high-tech "pastoral ideal". While preserving their cosmopolitan connections, affluent newcomers are likely to control the politics and economics of the rural areas into which they move. In contrast to this possibility, the stated and worthy goals of the recent rural development efforts are to empower rural communities, but it is difficult to tell which communities are being empowered. It is argued that in order to gain a true commitment from enterprises deciding to locate operations in rural areas, these companies should match public funds with private funds to construct community owned and controlled telecommunications infrastructures.