In our January 2014 issue, our Texas Grit feature looks at the hardships of the Dust Bowl, one of the most trying chapters in Texas' history. Do you have any memories to share? If so email us at .
Historians have studied the Dust Bowl era from many angles in the years since the infamous drought racked the Southern Plains in the 1930s. Here is a sampling of resources that provide more information about one of the most fascinating periods of Texas and American history. There are more resources out there, to be sure, but these will get you off to a good and comprehensive start.
The view from High Lonesome Lane is remarkably empty. The narrow dirt road cuts through the southern High Plains, traversing the Rita Blanca National Grasslands in the northwest corner of the Texas Panhandle. An occasional hackberry tree or windmill breaks the prairie’s distant horizon. Grazing pronghorn, startled by the rarity of a passing car, dart along broken stretches of sagging barbed-wire fence. It’s conceivable to imagine what this territory would have been like in decades past, including when drought-ravaged settlers left their homes to escape the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Although dust storms were common across the southern Great Plains in the 1930s, the spring storms between 1935 and 1938 proved especially violent. One of the most notorious “black blizzards” occurred on Palm Sunday, April 14, 1935. Originating in South Dakota and pushing southward, it affected portions of five states, including the Texas Panhandle. It hit with such intensity and suddenness that many people believed the end of the world had come. The phenomenon inspired Woody Guthrie, who lived in Pampa at the time, to compose the song “The Great Dust Storm,” which described the approaching cloud as “deathlike black” and “the worst dust storm that ever filled the sky.”