Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Dread of Dakota

"I have seen the Dread of Dakota. A genuine blizzard and am now ready to leave anytime, that we can sell," pioneer wife Sadie Shaw wrote to relatives back east from her Dakota homestead in Douglas County. "Oh, it was terrible. I have often read about Blizzards but they have to be seen to be fully realized."

The blizzard of January 12, 1888, did not put an end to the great white endeavor of settling and taming the prairie, but it did mark a turning point, a change of mood and direction. The Dakota boom had ended. Immigration to the prairie frontier slowed to a trickle in the last years of the 1880s.

"The dark, blinding, roaring storm once experienced, ever remains an actual living presence, that has marked it's pathway with ruin, desolation and death," wrote South Dakota historian Caleb Holt Ellis in 1909. "The 12th of January, 1888 is, and long will be, remembered, not only by Dakotans, but by many in the northwest, not for the things we enjoy, love and would see repeated; but for its darkness, desolation, ruin and death, spread broadcast; for the sorrow, sadness and heartache that followed in its train."

~ David Laskin, The Children's Blizzard


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