Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience

By John R. Wunder; Frances W. Kaye et al. | Go to book overview

RAINMAKING AND RAINMAKERS

Since the beginning, humans, in their innocent faith or their limitless arrogance, have claimed to be able to bring or stop rain or find water under the earth through magic, prayer, machinery, explosions, vapors, or other devices. Many of these old devices were used in the Great Plains in attempts to break the great drought of the 1880s and 1890s. Some reappeared at places of local drought on the Plains thereafter or were used to try to bring rains to arid areas. For example, from 1907 to 1913, C. W. Post attempted to force rain from the skies over west Texas by firing off cannons.

Just as the first settlement in the Great Plains brought rainmakers, the recent past continues the tradition. In the 1950s some newspapers noted that rain accompanied President Dwight D. Eisenhower when he visited drought-stricken south Texas. In summer 1971 drought in west Texas and in the Florida Everglades brought into view one Indian rainmaker, many rainmakers of the old kind, cloud seeders in airplanes with silver iodide, and prayers from the Texas Legislature. Both Texas and Florida got rain. The cloud seeders claimed it was their work that brought rain to Florida.

The few news stories printed here must stand for the many accounts of similar attempts made in the 1930s to entice rain. The short account about President Franklin D. Roosevelt as rainmaker is not entirely free from some doubt that it was merely a happy coincidence that rain followed the president from Devils Lake, North Dakota, to Rochester, Minnesota.

RAIN MACHINES FAIL,
KANSAS TRIES PRAYER

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