Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Remembering Weather in the 1930s


The current weather conditions, drought, high heat, and lack or water reminds me of recent research into Sherburne County during the 1930s.  A time of worse weather conditions permeated throughout the county.

Farming in Orrock Township after the difficult
weather of the 1930s.  Notice the thick layer of
sand sitting above the darker soil.
In the years 1933 and 1934, the county suffered a major drought.  Farmers remembered the time as a “dust bowl.”  Some residents of Sherburne County remember this time as an end to farming in some areas of the county.  “The light, worn out soils took to the air and drifted like snow over the roads and onto front porches,” is the way historian Herb Murphy described it.  Some folklore of the times described Orrock Township as the “poison ivy capital of the world.”  Other tall tales suggested that “jack rabbits, when passing through Orrock Township, had to pack a lunch because there was nothing to eat.” 

A variety of conservation efforts restored the area of Orrock Township.  Conservation groups planted trees and slowly brought back the land.  The bulk of the township became the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge and the Sand Dunes State Forest.  All of this resulting from the catastrophic drought conditions in the 1930s.  Worse than the weather of 2021, yet events important to remember.

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