Friday, April 9, 2010

Living in the Dust Bowl - for the USA Today

April marks the 75th anniversary of the peak of the Dust Bowl, the unprecedented drought that ravaged the Depression-era economy and forced one of the biggest migrations in American history. I recently went to Muleshoe, Texas, with Brian Winter of the USA Today to help document their story. Here is a link to the article: On Plains, concern about another Dust Bowl. In the story you will also find a video piece I shot - they found some great depression-era photos to include in the piece. Here is a link to their photo gallery (Dust Bowl then and now). And below are some of the stills that I particularly liked.

Wildlife refuge manager Jude Smith explains how a fence post has been buried by tumbleweeds and soil over time at the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, near Muleshoe, Texas. Smith believes a couple of fences are buried beneath this mound.

Jude Smith, wildlife refuge manager, describes how the levee built by the Works Projects Administration in the 1930s was designed to corral the water at the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge outside Muleshoe, Texas.

"The wind started blowing, and you could hardly see in front of your face," recounts James Wedel, 90, of the Dust Bowl storms in Muleshoe, Texas. "Static electricity was flying around. It was hard to breathe. I tell you, it was awful scary."

"It was rough old times," J.K. Adams, 93, says of the Dust Bowl. His family was able to survive by persuading the bank to suspend interest payments on their farm, and by using irrigation from a nearby well. "Daddy did a lot to keep the farm from blowing away." Adams and his wife, Margaret, live in Muleshoe, Texas.

"There's nothing quite like adversity to focus the mind," says Glen Williams, 93. He remembers how tough times during the Dust Bowl "brought out the best in people" and "trained them" to take better care of the land.