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Great Plains

Coupled with unusually hard winters; burned out crops and killed off cattle herds

Source: Norman J. Rosenberg, ed., North American Droughts (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1978), 1 9.

This lithograph from Harper'sWeekly, May 14, 1859, shows a Mississippi River flood sweeping everything before it. (Courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

The Great Flood of '74 began with melting snow far upriver and unusually heavy spring rains. Before the waters subsided, 200 to 300 persons were dead along with more than 1,000 head of livestock. A dozen or more river towns in Mississippi and Louisiana were heavily damaged, and tens of thousands of acres left covered in mud and debris. The river valley's residents would not experience another flood of this magnitude for another 16 years.

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