The Texas Panhandle, and High Plains in its entirety, always pulled at this Colorado girl’s heart. Prarie grass rolling in the wind and sunsets that rival those behind 14,000-foot mountains are hard to describe to people not from the Panhandle.
“It’s a different kind of beautiful,” I would always say.
The romance of open spaces large enough to foster one’s dreams captured my heart years ago.
“Infinity was never an abstraction on the High Plains.” – The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan
The High Plains captured dreams and more in the early 1900s when people began moving to No Man’s Land and on down to Amarillo, Texas. The beauty turned harsh once dusters began and The Dust Bowl became reality in the 1930s.
Timothy Egan writes about this part of American history that is only momentarily mentioned alongside the Great Depression. The Worst Hard Time, by Egan, covers the era is in “dramatic and heart-wrenching” novel that is “a vivid and gritty piece of forgotten history…”
Learning the history of the area I have called home since January 2014 has made me appreciate the men and women who settled this land so much more.
“The last best chance to do something right, to get a small piece of the world and make it work.” Egan, page 31
Also learned was the Russian thistle was brought over by accident in the pockets of the Russlanddeurschen with their turkey red winter wheat seeds. The Russian thistle is treated as a noxious weed in Colorado. But it grows on roadsides here almost as a reminder of those who settled the land; the culture they brought with them across the Atlantic.
If you are involved in row-crop farming or live in the High Plains area that was affected by the Dust Bowl, I would highly encourage reading The Worst Hard Time. It helps connect why the area is the way that it is and enlightens on different agricultural practices.
*Correction – pictured is the plume thistle. Russian thistle is the iconic tumbleweed blowing across any western movie scene. It is still a reminder of those who settled this land, just not as pretty to photograph.