Eastern Colorado Drought Report

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Imagine being sent on a scientific expedition to explore the Star Wars planet of Tatooine, and you need to provide a detailed account of what you encounter. The description given would probably say something about the harshness of the desert and liken it to a wasteland. As a matter of fact, you could find a more detailed description of the planet by reading a report of the American west made in the year 1806. In that year American explorer Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike, was sent on an expedition to survey the newly purchased Louisiana Territory where he traversed up the uncharted Arkansas River into what is present day Colorado. After pike returned from the expedition, he published a journal of his expedition giving the world the first written …show more content…
The people would also face an ecological disaster greater than anyone had seen at that time. While the people were still hurting from the Great Depression Mother Nature, with her wicked ways, would not sit back and be kind. Beginning only 2 years after the stock market crash and lasting for nearly a decade the region would see severe drought. According to an article, by American Experience “the drought hit first in the eastern part of the country in 1930. In 1931, it moved toward the west. By 1934 it had turned the Great Plains into a desert”. In an eerie manner, Colorado would begin to look and feel like what Pike and Long had described. As an example of how severe the drought was, Coloradopreservation.org claims that the region received over 60% less moisture than it had during the previous decade. Accompanying the drought were strong winds, that would lift the topsoil up into the atmosphere. The combination of the wind and topsoil caused massive dust storms that would blacken the sky, and turn day into night.Thus, ushering in a time that would later become known as the Dust Bowl. Ken Burns documentary “The Dust Bowl” puts it best by saying, “It was a decade-long natural catastrophe of Biblical proportions—encompassing 100 million acres in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico—when the …show more content…
In addition, the drop in value for crops and livestock caused much of what was once fertile farmlands to dry up and be plowed under. Although the topsoil was very fertile, exposing it to the open sun and other elements also made it very fragile and light. Moreover, in the decade before the drought large areas of the prairie would be over-farmed. For instance, over 5 million acres of prairie grass would be plowed under from 1925 to 1930 (Colorado Department of Agriculture). Additionally, many ranchers allowed their livestock to overgraze on the land. On the other hand, many of the farmers and ranchers didn’t realize that this was an irresponsible practice, and they had no clue about an impending drought. The decade before the Dust Bowl was also blessed with above average rainfall, and scientist believed the region was changing from a semi-arid climate to a wet climate. Nonetheless, the dust storms would increase and by 1932 there was a total of 14 “black blizzards”. The dust storms were so extreme that an estimated 300 million tons of topsoil were lost in one particular dust storm that lasted several days during May of 1934 (Coloradopreservation.org). The dust storms also created a large amount of static electricity. My grandfather grew up in Aguilar Colorado, during the Dust Bowl, once told me that the static was so severe people would need to attach anything metal, such as wire, to their vehicle to ground the

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