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Old 12-10-2012, 08:04 PM
 
16,505 posts, read 20,901,804 times
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Yep, pretty cheery thread title, isn't it? I don't have a scintilla amount of overall smarts regarding environmental issues in general, but I took a look at a PBS special I taped last month. It was the Ken Burns PBS documentary of the "Dust Bowl Days" of the 1930's. To me it was a real eye opener. It was a four hour special, two hours per night. It had a lot of interviews from folks who lived from La Junta to Springfield to Liberal, Ks. to Clayton, N.M. to Guymon,Ok. I've been a fan of Ken Burns work for some time and IMO this documentary was exceptional.

I remember my dad telling me stories about it. He grew up in an Indian orphanage in Enid, Oklahoma- a couple hundred miles east of what was referred to as "No Mans Land". That area was centered over Boise City, Oklahoma. He had pictures of the damage done to the area between Boise City and Guymon. And they were ugly. I thought of those pictures when I viewed the documentary. He knew a lot of people who lost everything in that mess. He knew people who wound up with the same "dust pneumonia" that was shown on the documentary.

When I think of the 1930's, two things jump out loud and clear- The Depression and The Dust Bowl. I'm not saying we are headed for that scenario next spring, but is there a slight chance of some of that scenario happening down the road?

I'd be interested in hearing peoples opinions. There is one Colorado poster that is located in the southeast corner, I believe the posters name is La Junta Econ Devel (I think) I would be interested in their take on the PBS special itself regarding the people interviewed. Am wondering LJED, were you aware of the people in town doing the documentary, interviewing the people?

Would look forward to peoples opinions and observations here.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 12-10-2012 at 10:32 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:44 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,389 posts, read 39,704,721 times
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Much MUCH different farming practices today. So very unlikely, but a similar (smaller scale) is possible, and might be probable.

While I am a prairie and dust bowl kid, AND I like Ken Burns stuff, this was not one of his better ones. Seems to have NOT got to the HEART / deep quest of the prairie pioneer. It was strictly documentary as from an outsider, he should have hired a couple farmers as writers to bring some reality, life, and passion to the story. Tho we all appreciate that he tried.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:29 PM
 
20,836 posts, read 39,046,511 times
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Loved the show, but seemed a tad repetitious in parts, like he had to stretch what material he had.

Yes, the farming practices of that era had a lot to do with it, not to mention there was clearly a bubble economy in wheat, so they plowed wall to wall, the Big Plow-Up as he called it. City slickers came along, bought land that never should've been farmed, planted wheat and stayed in the cities as absentee farmers. Wheat prices were high and it was a good living in the late 1920s, and newer farm machinery increased productivity and life was good. For a while.

All that sounds a lot like flipping homes in the recent housing bubble, eh.

Well, the dry days came along and the city slickers bailed and the land blew away from bad plowing and land husbandry practices. Amazing thing is that when FDR's farm expert taught then better practices, the land was restored in as little as two seasons. They paid the farmers an incentive to plow the "right way" and the dust bowl was over largely by 1940. But of course, we still pay the farmers to this day....hmmm....

I don't think we'll see another dust bowl like that again, maybe a few smaller cases, as land practices have changed too much and people no longer believe that the land and water are inexhaustible. But wow, would I like to meet those people in the film, the ones that lived through all that stuff, shake their hands and thank them profusely; but so few are left of them.

Ironically, they OK and CO dust-bowlers fled to California, where they weren't very welcome, but made the state bloom and become our nation's salad and fruit bowl, and now their grandkids are coming back to COLO, and aren't very welcome here by some folks here who call themselves COLO natives. Aren't we humans just a real mess.....

I've had many arguments with JazzLover that those eastern plains with small rainfall amounts should never have been plowed in the first-place, i.e., it was the "original sin" (water-wise) and that his cheerleading for AG is ill-advised given that it is sucking down 90% of the states water.

But I just love all those Ken Burns mini-series, can't get enough of them...two bad the young people don't watch the stuff.
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Last edited by Mike from back east; 12-10-2012 at 09:37 PM..
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:06 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,777,680 times
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As usual, Mike doesn't understand or want to understand what I have to say about Colorado agriculture. The whole "homesteading" mania at the turn of the 20th Century in eastern Colorado was a classic case of land speculation gone wild in an arid to semi-arid dryland environment. A bunch of people, most ignorant of the environment of the region, poured in from the outside and perpetrated one of the worst ecological disasters in North American history. Much of that land should have never been plowed--it should have remained rangeland. Anyone who thinks that another Dust Bowl could not occur in the Great Plains is also mistaken. A lot of land in the Great Plains, much of it that has been in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for a number of years, is now being purchased by absentee owners (often "land trusts" fueled with foreign money) that are "busting out" a lot of that land into wheat production once again. A lot of old-line eastern Colorado ranchers that I know just shake their heads seeing this, saying, "Well, he we go again." Also, a lot of eastern Colorado cropland is now irrigated with water from the depleting Ogallala Aquifer and eventually will go back to dryland farming, subject to all of the potential environment problems that entails. Meanwhile, a lot of land in eastern Colorado that historically was irrigated with heretofore renewable streamflows from the Arkansas and Platte River systems have had that water diverted to the urban areas--rendering that land to be "dryland."

Meanwhile, also, a similar land speculation-caused water/environmental problem is brewing in Colorado with the decades-long binge of small-acreage "ranchette" development that has been permitted in the foothill and mountain areas of Colorado. While that ecological disaster may not be as visible to the naked eye, it is having very detrimental effects on everything from water supplies to wildlife migration routes to proliferation of non-native pest plant species to irreparable damage to Colorado's most sensitive and rare riparian areas. The ravages of the Dust Bowl could be said, at least, to have stemmed from an overzealous devotion to doing a good thing--producing food. The latter "ranchette" development produces no such noble benefit--it just gives people a pretty place to go goof off.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:55 PM
 
103 posts, read 351,089 times
Reputation: 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by DOUBLE H View Post
Yep, pretty cheery thread title, isn't it? I don't have a scintilla amount of overall smarts regarding environmental issues in general, but I took a look at a PBS special I taped last month. It was the Ken Burns PBS documentary of the "Dust Bowl Days" of the 1930's. To me it was a real eye opener. It was a four hour special, two hours per night. It had a lot of interviews from folks who lived from La Junta to Springfield to Liberal, Ks. to Clayton, N.M. to Guymon,Ok. I've been a fan of Ken Burns work for some time and IMO this documentary was exceptional.

I remember my dad telling me stories about it. He grew up in an Indian orphanage in Enid, Oklahoma- a couple hundred miles east of what was referred to as "No Mans Land". That area was centered over Boise City, Oklahoma. He had pictures of the damage done to the area between Boise City and Guymon. And they were ugly. I thought of those pictures when I viewed the documentary. He knew a lot of people who lost everything in that mess. He knew people who wound up with the same "dust pneumonia" that was shown on the documentary.

When I think of the 1930's, two things jump out loud and clear- The Depression and The Dust Bowl. I'm not saying we are headed for that scenario next spring, but is there a slight chance of some of that scenario happening down the road?

I'd be interested in hearing peoples opinions. There is one Colorado poster that is located in the southeast corner, I believe the posters name is La Junta Econ Devel (I think) I would be interested in their take on the PBS special itself regarding the people interviewed. Am wondering LJED, were you aware of the people in town doing the documentary, interviewing the people?

Would look forward to peoples opinions and observations here.
Double H....Glad you posted about the documentary. Quite a few people down here viewed it, recorded it, etc. As with everything else, no doubt mixed reaction...but I think the common thread is fear that the drought will continue. There is a mix of feelings about a Dust Bowl repeat/non-repeat just as the posters here....some yes, some no (and for some of the same reasons listed in posts here).

I do think his documentary is a good awareness piece as to what kinds of things can happen to us if our moisture patterns don't change; and the disconcerting news is that it doesn't appear there is change on the horizon.

As far as locals, haven't talked to anyone who knew they were in town. Most of the interviews were with people down in the Campo, Pritchett, Springfield area. However sometimes my circle of friends is limited to those who frequent the Elks the same time of night I do! With this in mind, I will check the Copper Kitchen (local cafe featured on Alton Brown's show), get the straight scoop and report back.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 12-12-2012 at 12:58 PM.. Reason: Typo
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Deer Creek/Edmond, OKla
656 posts, read 1,715,852 times
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I enjoyed the series as well, though I don't guess I am familiar with any of his other works to compare this one too. Some nights one episode was on one PBS station while the other was on the other PBS station at the same time. unfortunately I don't think I ever caught a whole episode, wife and kids didn't find it all that interesting.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:04 PM
 
16,505 posts, read 20,901,804 times
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Thanks LJED! Yep, I've been in the Copper Kitchen, off U.S.50, been some time back. Blueberry pancakes-OH BABY!! Great breakfasts!

A good friend of mine who I worked on power plants with would make that journey down to Springfield to visit his folks twice a year (the Mohrs) And they know, they lived there for decades.

prerunner1982. Google in Ken Burns, he's been involved in documentaries for years. A few of the ones I like the most are his docs on jazz, the west, and baseball (probably my favorite) There are several others of course.

Your kids are missing some essential watching, like Mike From Back East said in post #3 "too bad the young people don't watch the stuff."

Yes.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 12-11-2012 at 05:22 PM..
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:59 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,878 posts, read 102,269,915 times
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I enjoyed the series too. I echo the comments of others that it got a little "draggy".
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:37 PM
 
Location: Colorado
486 posts, read 1,275,190 times
Reputation: 640
I saw half of it and found it very captivating. The whole time I was watching, I was drawing paralels to present day. The old photos and footage was amazing to see.

I appreciated how Ken Burns told the differing stories of the dust-bowl age - where people ended up when they left the plains is very fascinating.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:37 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,357,104 times
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What brought me up short was the ending, where it described that since the Dust Bowl, farmers in the central states stopped depending on rainfall and instead began using the vast underground Ogallala Aquifer for irrigation.

The aquifer provides 30% of all the US water, and 82% of the drinking water for the states that are situated over it.

The frightening part is that 50% of the irreplaceable aquifer water is already gone, and is expected to be exhausted in 25 years.
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