Plains (or Great Plains), The.
Roughly, the region extending from the Mississippi to the Rockies, but excluding the arid portions of the Southwest and the Dakota badlands. Before the white man came, the plains were covered with tough grass that supported huge herds of bison, and there were few trees. The land was perfect for grazing cattle, and they replaced the depleted bison herds. The eastern section became a grain growing area. Erosion of the topsoil and drought led to the Dustbowl of the 1930s, especially in Oklahoma and Texas. <IR> PARKMAN </IR> 's Oregon Trail (1849) describes the western migration of pioneers; <IR> WILLA CATHER </IR> describes farming life in Nebraska in books like O Pioneers (1913); <IR> STEINBECK </IR> 's Grapes of Wrath (1913) tells of the Dustbowl refugees; and <IR> LARRY McMURTRY </IR> 's Lonesome Dove 1985) describes a cattle drive.