Saint John in Stafford County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Surviving the Dirty Thirties
Recipe for Hard Times
Combine major drought, high summer temperatures, too much land under cultivation, and strong prairie winds. Throw in rock-bottom wheat prices and the Great Depression, and you have the recipe for the Dirty Thirties.
In the 1930s, winds whipped Kansas topsoil into sun-darkening clouds. Wheat crops withered. Not everyone suffered equally—many farms pulled in marginal harvests and stayed afloat—but times were lean all around.
President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs helped local communities weather these hard times. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Work Projects [sic - Works Progress] Administration (WPA) hired local men for a range of construction projects, including many bridges in Barton County (seven of them crafted from native limestone) and a number of municipal buildings, like the auditorium in Great Bend and the high school in St. John. The WPA funded regional artists as well—a legacy that endures in the 1938 "Wheat Center" mural in the Hoisington post office.
During the 1930s, farmers received federal funds to plant and maintain shelterbelts to reduce
Motion and Change
Though local limestone had largely fallen out of construction use by the 1920s as easier-to-use materials became available, the Great Depression sparked a resurgence. Local WPA bridge projects combined native limestone with meticulous workmanship, marrying function and enduring beauty.
Erected by Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway, Kansas Dept of Transportation, and Federal Highway Administration.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Disasters • Environment • Government & Politics. A significant historical year for this entry is 1938.
Location. 38° 0.064′ N, 98° 45.611′ W. Marker is in Saint John, Kansas, in Stafford County. Marker is on Broadway north of 2nd Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Marker is on the Stafford County Courthouse grounds. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 209 North Broadway, Saint John KS 67576, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway (here, next to this marker); Replica of the Statue of Liberty (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cultivating America’s Bread Basket (approx. 9 miles away); Home on the Range (approx. 9.1 miles away); Farmers National Bank (approx. 9.1 miles away).
Also see . . .
1. Works Progress Administration. Kansapedia website entry (Submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. The Living New Deal: Kansas. Website entry (Submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. New Deal Arts & Culture Programs in Kansas. Kara L. Heitz website entry (Submitted on January 1, 2022, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
4. "New Deal" Projects Still Thrive in Kansas. Kansas Historical Society website entry (Submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. "Shelterbelts". Encyclopedia of the Great Plains website entry (Submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 206 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.