1935–Dust Denudes More Acres

Dust, Drought, and Depression #11

CaptureWorst Storm’ of Year Adds to Desolation of Southwest Area

Kansas City. Mo.-(AP)-Dust drifts and human misery increased Thursday in the plains area as now silt laden winds blew from the northwest.
A M. Hamrick, federal meteorologist here, could see little hope for cessation of the dust plague to the west and southwest, but there were reports of beneficial rains north and northeast of here.
The northern border of Kansas and the approximate center of the state apparently formed the dividing line for the dust with western Kansas, eastern Colorado and Wyoming, western parts of Oklahoma, virtually all of Texas and parts of New Mexico bearing the brunt of the storm.

Barren Fields Now

Where In other years at this season wheat and other crops have spread their checkerboard pattern of green shades over the landscape, there are barren fields without a blade of green, drifts of soil along roads, fences and farm buildings, and deserted highways.
While no relief from nature was in sight Thursday, some was promised from Washington. The AAA agreed to make full benefit payments to farmers in drouth areas who plant no wheat because of adverse weather conditions.

In this 1935 photo, a cloud of top soil lumbers across the road near Boise City, Oklahoma. Astonishingly, the cloud of dust is so large, it extends past the frame of the photo.

In this 1935 photo, a cloud of top soil lumbers across the road near Boise City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s Panhandle was the heart of what became known as the Dust Bowl.2

In a previous step to meet drouth conditions the administration announced that spring wheat farmers might plant up to 165 per cent of their base acreage instead of the maximum of 90 per cent. The ruling Thursday by Secretary Wallace waives the minimum requirement where there is evidence that planting of wheat would be a waste of seed because of the drouth.

Get Roosevelt Support

This action will be taken only in counties officially designated by the AAA wheat section as drouth stricken areas and then only by county wheat production control committees after individual producers halve made application for exemption.
A group of congressmen from the drouth area called on President Roosevelt Wednesday and asked an adequate fund for a land program for the area The program would include the planting of cover crops The president assured them adequate funds for the project would be available.

Trainmen in Western Kansas are hoping for relief from a dust storm which made operation of trains difficult. This picture shows a second engine trying to extricate one stalled in a dust drift, April 4, 1935, Dodge City, Ks. (AP Photo)

Trainmen in Western Kansas are hoping for relief from a dust storm which made operation of trains difficult. This picture shows a second engine trying to extricate one stalled in a dust drift, April 4, 1935, Dodge City, Ks. (AP Photo)3

For a month dun colored clouds have swirled and billowed over what once was known as the nation’s bread basket. Hopes for relief, raised earlier this week by promising weather forecasts, were shattered Wednesday by a dust “blizzard” called the worst of the series.
As the latest storm roared over the middle west, the government’s monthly crop report was released.

Many Acres Abandoned

“A large proportion of the acreage,” in this important winter wheat area is being abandoned, it said. The condition of the wheat crop in six Kansas counties—Graham, Gove, Greeley, Wichita, Hamilton and Kearney—was listed as zero.
From other sources came reports that bordered on the pitiful.
“The only hope now, if they get rain instead of dust, is in sorghums and corn,” declared Prof. R. I. Throckmorton of Kansas State college in referring to the western third of Kansas.

Three children prepare to leave for school wearing goggles and homemade dust masks to protect them from the dust. Lakin, Kansas, 1935. Credit: Green Family Collection

Three children prepare to leave for school wearing goggles and homemade dust masks to protect them from the dust. Lakin, Kansas, 1935.4

Kenneth Welch, relict administrator in Baca county, Colorado. said no crops whatever can be expected in southeastern Colorado unless heavy spring rains come.
“I do not see how anyone can continue to live here if these storms continue.” Welch added.

Dust Chokes Babies

“Dust pneumonia is increasing rapidly among children in Baca county because of the unusually severe dust storms of the last few days,” Welch said. “Doctors report to me that several eases are critical and the situation is daily becoming worse, particularly among infants.”
The people are wearing dust masks and schools are closed.
The terrific dust gales of the last three days have been extremely hard on livestock in southeastern Colorado, although relatively few cattle remain.
Some residents are deserting the stricken area but the majority are determined to “stick it out,” either because they have no other place to go or because of hope that better days are coming.

As a black blizzard rolls in to Ulysses, Kansas, two women and a girl pose for a photograph before taking shelter.

As a black blizzard rolls in to Ulysses, Kansas, two women and a girl pose for a photograph before taking shelter.

Approximately 100 families have left Cimarron and Texas counties in northwestern Oklahoma. Scores of women and children have been sent from Baca county, Colorado. A few families have left Union county, New Mexico.

Dust Carried Eastward

Wednesday’s dust storm closed schools, forced shopkeepers to close their stores, grounded airplanes and disrupted train and bus schedules. By night the cloud of dust had been carried into Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas. The dust swirled eastward over St. Louis Thursday and was reported blowing over Tennessee.
Four buses were held over night at Garden City, Kas., the drivers reporting the highways too dangerous because of the dust. At Pritchet, Col., 180 school children and passengers on storm bound buses spent the night in schoolhouses and pigvate homes.
Trains from the west arrived in Kansas City from three and one-half to six hours late Wednesday, some trains with coaches so dirty that new ones had to be substituted. Train windows were coated with a heavy film of grime.
At Great Bend, Kas., the blinding dust was blamed Thursday for an automobile-truck collision that killed Lee Cooper, 23.


References:

  1. The Milwaukee Journal – April 11, 1935
  2. Daily News – AP photo.
  3. Kansas Dust Bowl – The Wichita Eagle
  4. Credit: Green Family Collection
america, american history, disaster images, Dust, Drought, and Depression, great depression, history, photography, vintage images, weather

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