Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II

By James J. Kimble | Go to book overview

4
Mobilizing Greater Nebraska

It’s every county for itself and the larger the county the harder it will fall before us.
—“Dundy Holding Third in State Salvage Drive,”
Benkelman Post and News-Chronicle (1942)

The region of the Great Plains that the Otoe tribe once called Nibrathka has long embodied a sort of wilderness in the imagination of its visitors. Lieutenant Zebulon Pike’s 1806 description of this area of the country as being akin to an African desert set the tone for later impressions. In 1820, Major Stephen H. Long and Dr. Edwin James journeyed west from what would one day become Council Bluffs, Iowa. James, notes the historian Ralph C. Morris, “described the country as having grown less pleasant, less abundantly supplied with game, and less fertile with every mile.” For his part, Major Long published a detailed map of the region and famously affixed the label “Great Desert” on what would eventually become the border between Kansas and Nebraska. Long’s map was highly influential, shaping perceptions of the territory for generations. By 1904, then, it was no surprise to find that a British writer, R. B. Townsend, was casually using the phrase “great empty Plains” to describe the area.1

While the gradual flowering of much of Nebraska under plow and harrow effectively refuted claims that the area was in fact a desert, Townsend’s description was arguably a reasonable fit for much of the state, even

-77-

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Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction - Home Front, Battlefront 1
  • 1 - The Scrap Deficit, or How Not to Win a War 12
  • 2 - Henry Doorly and the Nebraska Plan 32
  • 3 - Summertime Scrapping in the City 51
  • 4 - Mobilizing Greater Nebraska 77
  • 5 - The Second-Half Comeback 100
  • 6 - The Nebraska Plan Goes National 123
  • Epilogue - Home Front, Battlefront (Revisited) 146
  • Appendix 159
  • Notes 163
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 209
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