Hattie’s diary entry from 80 years ago today speaks to the unpredictability and ferocity of the Dust Bowl, which many people don’t realize extended as far north as the Dakotas. An article in the next day’s Nebraska Beatrice Daily Sun stated that the storm left a coating of “dust an eighth of an inch deep in less than 10 minutes.”

Hattie’s diary from Thursday, July 5, 1934:

“Bright, cool early a.m. then very warm out of N.E., then S.E. breeze, the wind changed to S.W. in afternoon then N.W., clouded in North and South and rain there but only a very severe dust-storm down Antelope Valley. Will and I [were] in the dust-storm from Jim Mann’s to Pat Karnes’ Corner west of store and it was so dark we couldn’t see at times, finally car got so full [of] sand we [were] stalled and wind and dust quit so Ben Elliott family came along and they tied us on and we got started again, stopped at store for mail and Ralph Armbruster came home with us and took Elmer’s Car back to have it fixed. Elmer was riding out on stock and he laid on Ground and held his saddle horse during dust-storm. Maggie at home and she went to the basement during storm. No rain here…. Maggie did the work and canned the beef we got from Ed last eve and she cleaned the downstairs but it was all dust in late p.m. again.” [emphases added]


Dust Bowl - Dallas, South Dakota 1936

Dust Bowl – Dallas, South Dakota 1936, public domain photo, USDA Image # 00di00971

Watch Ken Burns discuss the making of his PBS documentary The Dust Bowl: