European Settlement of the Great Plains

The main settlement of the Great Plains occurred after the 1840 migrations to Oregon and the 1849 Gold Rush to California. Environmental historian William Cronon has interpreted the history of the Great Plains in terms of narrative. The grand narrative of America, Cronon argues, is a story of progress. The frontier narrative depicts that formative story and, as such, is the master narrative of American culture. A hostile environment, initially conceptualized as a Great American desert, was...

Soil Exhaustion in the Tobacco South

Craven, in Soil Exhaustion in the Agricultural History of Virginia and Maryland, 1606-1860 1926 , maintained that soil exhaustion and tobacco cultivation went hand in hand.10 Tobacco rapidly depleted the soil, hence luxuriant crops could be grown for only three or four years. Soon after planting, soil nutrients especially nitrogen and potassium began to decline and soil microorganisms created toxins that poisoned tobacco plants. Soil fungi and root rot resulted from continual...

The Antitoxics Movement

The antitoxics movement grew out of public attention to the pollution of Love Canal, a community near Niagara Falls, New York, in 1978. The main spokesperson was Lois Gibbs, whose son and daughter had both experienced major health problems as a result of living in an area formerly used as a waste site by Hooker Chemical Company. The company had sold the site to the city of Niagara Falls for one dollar, and a school was built on it in 1954. As the mothers of the school children in the late 1970s...