The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929 Page: 123
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West Texas Drouths
dry-land farming."' Drouth resisting crops were discussed; the
Abilene Reporter urged the people to plant castor beans."'
Many of the suggestions were impractical, but they all were helpful
in that they tended to stimulate interest in dry-land farming.
Irrigation was discussed enthusiastically as a drouth remedy. The
Texas and Pacific Railroad Company bored a number of artesian
wells across the drouth area to see if underground water could be
had in sufficient quantities for the purpose. In addition, the com-
pany sent a corps of engineers to California to study irrigation in
that state and determine whether or not California methods could
be used in Texas."'
Dry years continued to come, but none were so disastrous as
1886. In 1891, the country tributary to the Rio Grande suffered
greatly from drouth. As the dry weather extended into the sum-
mer the cattle suffered more and more. The grass was completely
stamped and eaten away for great distances from the waterholes.
The animals were compelled to travel for miles from their grazing
to water. In their weakened condition many would fall to the
ground from mere exhaustion and die. The cattlemen offered
whole herds for sale as low as $2 per head, but could not sell them
at any price. A few of the cattlemen who started early enough
in the season, managed to save their herds by driving them to the
northwest; but the most of them, thinking it would rain, waited
until the miserable condition of the cattle would not permit the
animals to be moved."6 The result was a heavy loss. The total
amount of rainfall for all West Texas for 1891 was less than for
1886, but the most of what did fall came in the spring and early
summer. Grass and some crops were made, and no great suffering
occurred, except in the Rio Grande region.70 In 1893, the part of
West Texas lying north of the Texas and Pacific Railroad was in
the extreme southern end of a drouth area which embraced Kansas,
Missouri, part of Arkansas and the Indian Territory. Although
times were hard in that region, the conditions were not comparable
with those of '86.
"6Taylor County News, June 3, 1887.
"'Abilene Reporter, April 29, 1887.
"8Haskell Free Press, April 2, 1887.
"'Banner Leader, November 12, 1891.
"OTaylor County News, July 21, 1893.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929, periodical, 1929; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101089/m1/127/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.