DATELINE I PANHANDLE The Weather Up There BY JOHN MILLER MORRIS The photos and text on the following pages are excerpted from Taming the Land: The Lost Postcard Photographs of the Texas High Plains, by John Miller Morris, published in April by Texas A&M University Press. The postcard photos reproduced here are from the author’s personal collection. Albert Lawrence Wilson “It Snows in Texhoma” Texas County. Severe winter weather is routine in the Panhandle, but the winter of 1911-12 was a small ice age. From November through April fierce blizzards tested the fortitude of isolated farmers and ranchers. Some snowfalls were so heavy that settlers were forced to dig tunnels out of their homes. Townfolk traveled along towering “snow bridges,” immense drifts that linked half-buried buildings together. Wags said the country was “open range” once more, as all the fences were buried. Most settlers, with prior experience or roots in the Great Plains communities farther north, coped admirably with the privations of being snowbound. But there were also reports of emergency situationslack of food, fuel, doctors, or medicinethroughout the region. Like many residents, A. L. Wilson took an abiding interest in the weather of the High Plains. He was fond of its precipitation events, photographing Texhoma in the aftermath of rains as well as winter blizzards. As this winter 1912 heavy snowfall suggests, the very top of Texas was far more Canada than Mexico. The worst of these winter storms smothered towns, threatened the lives of freighters, toppled windmills by the dozens, froze livestock, and generally buried the puny vertical improvements of mankind under a vast mantle of white horizontality. 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 12, 2009
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