When you think of Wyoming, what first comes to mind? Is it some good likin’ cowboy on a horse? Or rugged mountain terrain and sage brush? Or how about standing on a front porch watching the sunset after a long day on the ranch? Ahh.. Today, today I think of wind! The wind is blowing up to 80MPH this December morning, and with no snow for Christmas yet, its causing dust to blow all around. So, I am hunkering down in the house avoiding it all, watching a movie I have seen a thousand times when suddenly the power goes out wrecking my days plans. Ugh. Now what? I guess I will go put on a bonnet, some nickers, and a long flowery dress and start churning my own butter. No, we are not at that point yet. But, it did get me thinking of the 1930’s and Dust Bowl situation, so I did some research. What else is there to do? I still have hotspot!
I understand now why they called it the “Dirty Thirties.” As I look out my window, I see my bird feeder fly off the tree and breaking to pieces into the field. Grrr! Good thing I left my chickens in the coop today. Oh, no! The coop! Ok, it’s still there. But, there is also a fog of dust out there, too. Not so much in my grassy pasture, but across the way in the dirt pasture where some goats had eaten up all the grass. This is what it must have been like in the 1930’s? I guess after the Civil War, federal land acts encouraged people westward to farm the Great Plains. Even though the Rockies pass through Wyoming, Cheyenne is considered pretty plain, yet beautiful!
So, many of these pioneers had this superstition then that, “rain follows the plow.” For years when they arrived west to farm, it rained and rained, and in the 1910’s and 1920’s, the demand for wheat went up due to WWI. This encouraged farmers to plow up more land to be able to plant more crop. However, WWI ended and the Great Depression hit making wheat price go way down now. This made farmers cultivate even more land in attempt to harvest a bumper crop. But, as we know, then the onset of an almost decade long drought hit with some high winds storms in the mix. With all this newly tore up land, the dust was able to be picked up like crazy! Introducing, the Dust Bowl.
The newly cultivated land become useless for farming during this time and some wind storms were so bad that it carried dust all the way to the East Coast, giving The Statue of Liberty a little sprinkle of western dust. Dust was everywhere! It was getting into the cracks of homes and settling on furniture, people, and food. That reminds me, I think I may have forgotten how to cook without power. Hmm, a wood stove would be handy right about now! Sandwich it is. Some people developed “dust pneumonia,” which, by using my limited medical background, is probably dust settling in the lungs causing infection. “Cough, cough.” Is this COVID, dust pneumonia, or paranoia? Which era am I in, again? Too soon to tell, ya’ll.
Well, the rain eventually returned to a normal state around 1939, but not before it forced many people to migrate and leave these flat dry lands and cause some serious economic downfall. I am hoping for less wind and more snow in the near future here in southern Wyoming after today! I hope you enjoyed this little history buff. Until next time!
I may end up in Kansas by the end of today…