through countless magazines, newspapers and books, both old and new, turns up
numerous interesting tidbits of history. These are tucked away in my inbox and
when I find enough to fill an article I group them together. Here are some samples:
Seventy-five years ago on March 18, 1935, the first "shelter-belt" was
planted on the Horace E. Curtis farm near Willow, Okla., in Greer County. For
those who don't know, a shelter-belt is a group of rows of various types of trees,
chosen for their hardiness, drought resistance and fast growth.
supply fruit for the sometimes desperate families trying to survive the Dust Bowl,
various fruit trees including apricot, apple, pear and peach trees were planted.
To help supply wooden posts for fencing and lumber, bois de arc and black locust
trees were often added. Their primary purpose was to provide a shield against
the prairie winds of the Dust Bowl.
Although controversial at first, the
program provided jobs for the unemployed and promoted conservation in its earliest
design overseen by the WPA and the CCC work forces. From 1935 to 1942 when the
program halted, some 20 million trees had been planted on 5,000 Oklahoma farms
alone. These shelter-belts eventually grew to 3,000 lineal miles of rows of trees
that were not there before the Dust Bowl began. Oklahoma boasted they were the
No. 1 shelter-belt state in the nation.
of my recent articles told that today's Dalhart
was known at one time as Twist when the first railroad
was constructed through the area. This statement generated an e-mail from Gerald
Hook of Russellville, Ark., who is my "resident railroad expert."
an article from a 1929 railroad magazine that reported on Dec. 9, 1928, at 2:15
a.m. a northbound freight train moving at about 25 mph ran about one mile beyond
Twist, a sidetrack where it was supposed to wait for a southbound passenger train
to pass by. It seems the passenger trains always had right-of-way over freight
trains. This created a terrible train wreck.
Since this was before diesel
engines, the steam boiler of the passenger train was ripped loose and came to
rest on top of the cars of the freight train. The glowing fire-box of the boiler
set fire to a railcar containing gasoline and eventually 10 railcars burned.
Three railroad employees died in the crash and 45 other passengers were injured.
Blame for the wreck was placed on the freight train crew. Seems no one noticed
they had passed the sidetrack entrance at Twist. The conductor admitted he was
"attending paperwork" and depended on the rear brakeman to keep watch on the train's
Where was Twist exactly? According to an October 1940 copy of
the Official Railway Guide, Twist was an unmanned station at milepost 388.5, some
4.8 miles south of today's Dalhart
on the old Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad. Thanks to Gerald for this information.
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" June 22, 2010 Column
Delbert Trew is a freelance
writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164, by mail at Box
A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For books see
DelbertTrew.com. His column appears weekly.