“‘The last frontier of agriculture,’ he government called it in 1923. Southern families, field hands, Scots-Irish and Welsh usually,came in steady waves, fleeing exhausted land for a prairie untouched. The Scots-Irish had left Ireland and the north of Britain in the eighteenth century and settled in the thin soil on either side of the Appalachian spine before spreading out to the South and Midwest. They were cannon fodder in the Civil War, many left landless. People from the new cities of Oklahoma, out of work when oil prices plummeted, came as well. Mexicans were drawn by jobs on irrigated beet farms in Kansas and Colorado. When young men started looking around Kentucky or Arkansas in 1910 and were told there was nothing for them but a life of laboring for someone else, they pointed to the Texas Panhandle or No Man’s Land of Oklahoma and good bye, see ya on the farm. My farm. And more than any other group, they came from a faraway part of Russia: thousands of people who had been adrift for centuries, thrown to the wind. When they arrived in Omaha or Kansas City, the scouts, land merchants, and railroad colonists sent them on to the High Plains.”
<em>The Worst Hard Time</em>, Timothy Egan, p 57
This is like reading a horror novel. The slow build-up of the happy, hopeful family as they move into the new house in the new town only to have the angry corpses rise up from the basement. Except in this case instead of angry corpses we have the land itself rising up and flying through the air and landing in the Atlantic Ocean. On April 14, 1935, a <em>single day</em>, 300,000 tons of the High Plains went airborne. Seven times the amount of earth excavated from the Panama Canal.