WHT Intro Notes: Characters+Horror
2: the story of this place: how the greatest grassland in the world was turned inside out, how the crust blew away, raged up in the sky and showered down a suffocating blackness off and on for a decade.
as if a curtain were being drawn across a vast stage at the world's end.
at a time when ¼ were out of work.
2-3: an old woman burns her husband's dust bowl diary
land act of 1909
5: 29-39. After a big run up, prices crashed. The rains disappeared…for years on end.
A scoop shovel was needed to clean the house in the morning.
Cows "they found stomachs stuffed with fine sand"
7: over 100 degrees for 35 days, on the 36th, 117.
Black Sunday—April 1935. Sky went purple. Electricity. Great pp
9 14 mil fled. Exodusters, mostly tenant farmers.
10: 2/3 stayed; now pigs and prisons
Dust bowl #1 weather event of 20th cent. Worst prolonged environmental disaster.
After, farmers got religion…but it didn't last. But now global farm commodities era.
Chapter 1: Bam White + History+ Warnings
15: Pre and colonial history of plains: Coronado in 1541
Apaches in 1700's; Comanches in 1800's
Medicine Lodge Treaty 1867: Comanche to GP's.
17: Killed bison by the millions (7 million pounds of bison tongue). 25 million killed.
18: Red River War: killed 1k horses. (Sheridan).
19: 10 years to eliminate the bison
19: XIT Ranch—Cows and Cowboys
Grassands covered 21 percent of US. Texas it was 2/3rds.
20 Capitol Syndicate 1882: bought it for 1.23.
How to Get Rich in the Plains.
21: Barbed wire invented in 1874
22: Bison are thermal regulators, cattle are fragile.
The Great American Desert.
23: Uninhabitable by people who depend on ag.—Report of 1820
24: Turns to real estate
Dry farming/Rain Follows the Plow
Use the dust for mulch.
Steam trains helped it rain.
25: The panhandle was good for ONE THING: Growing grass.
The best side is up…don't plow it under.
Sodbusters v. cowboys
26: Miles to water, miles to wood, and only six inches to hell.
27: Growing corn for brooms killed by vacuum. Corn for booze.
Chapter 2: Boise City, WWI+Grain prices, tempting fate
32: Boise City (tree/city) a lie twice.
34: Five flags: Spain, French, Mexico, Texas, US
36: Northern Plains abandoned already 1910-1930
37: Windmills reach aquifer. Windmill kits. Vast lake below the surface.
"The supply (of water) is inexhaustible."
38: Fire, flood, cow dip
39: The Great War: Turn the ground…as fast as you can.
42-3: Grain price spikes during WWI ($2 a bushel Government guarantee)
43: If the farmers of the High Plains were laying the foundation for a time bomb that would shatter the natural world, any voices that implied such a thing were muted.
What had been an anchored infinity of grassland just a generation earlier became a patchwork of broken ground.
47: Tractors speed plowing.
48: Loans to buy tractors, mortgages.
50: Maybe rain did follow the plow. The banks seldom said no.
50-51: If it was hubris, or 'tempting fat' as some of the church ladies said, well, the US gov. did not see it that way…. "The soil is the one indestructible, immutable asset that the nation posses," the Federal Bureau of Soils proclaimed as the grasslands were transformed. "It is the one resource that cannot be exhausted, that cannot be used up."