The Great Depression.

For millions of people across the United States and around the world, the Great Depression of the 1930s meant one thing: No job.

Unemployment was not something that could happen, it was something that did happen. We've all seen the photos and film of long soup lines in every major city in the country. Banks closed, businesses shuttered, families torn apart, and literally starving. Devastating is the one word that may somehow come close to describing the economic calamity of that decade.

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And then add to that, in rural America and across virtually all of the Great Plains including South Dakota, the Dust Bowl, and...

The Black Blizzards.

Many of us have experienced what's called a 'white-out'. Those times in winter when the snow is falling (or already fallen) and the winds kick up. You're driving down the interstate or a highway and suddenly a 'white-out' brings visibility to zero. Everything, yes everything, is white.

Now, turn that totally around...all of a sudden everything is black.

That is a South Dakota 'Black Blizzard', and your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents lived through them, not only in South Dakota but in states from the Canadian border to Texas and all across the middle belly of the country.

No, this wasn't a dust storm, this was a Black Blizzard and every bit (and more) deadly than a severe winter blizzard. The dirt rose up and moved...and moved...and moved. Perhaps the worst of the worst was April 14, 1935, a day that would come to be known as 'Black Sunday'. Some 20 'Black Blizzards' ravaged the country all the way from Canada south to Texas. Machinery, cars, and even houses were covered, totally covered, with dust and dirt and debris. This video will give you a glimpse into what it was like.

But that wasn't all. On May 9, 1934, a two-day storm began that blew across South Dakota and the Upper Midwest. It deposited 12 million pounds of dirt and dust on Chicago. Think about that. 12 million pounds! 

Obviously, farms and ranches were decimated or destroyed. Thousands of South Dakotans joined millions of others and moved, looking for a better life. The ones who stayed battled the elements, the weather, the economy, and their emotions. Things had to get better. They just had to.

And they did. Today I can tell you that, after having lived in this state for nearly five decades, the finest people in the world live right here in South Dakota. From Lemmon to Elk Point, from Sisseton to Edgemont, and every town and farm and ranch in between, the folks in South Dakota are the best.

And while many of us have experienced a 'white-out', it was the generation or two or three before us that lived through the Great Depression and the devastating 'Black Blizzard's'.

Wikipedia Contributed To This Article. Originally published February 29, 2016 

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