A single ponderosa pine tree found in the central Black Hills of SouthDakota revealed its age of more than 700 years by its tree rings taken from coring in 1992. The purpose of this study was to examine historic climatic patterns from the 13th century through most of the 20th century as inferred from ring widths of this and other nearby trees. The steep, rocky site where this tree was found helped this tree and its cohorts survive fires and other damaging agents.
Our analysis indicated that both dry and wet spells of longer duration andmagnitude than the 1930’s drought have occurred previously. For example,since 1600, the 1930’s “dust bowl” drought ranks 4th in severity. Further, if additional evidence supports the single tree record, the 1930’s drought may be of even less significance.