When Wheat Turned the Streets into Gold

In 1958, the wheat harvest was so bountiful, they dumped millions of bushels in the streets.

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Farmers in the street harvesting grain
Bob Taylor, © SEPS

Each summer, the golden scythe of harvest sweeps more than a thousand miles across the ripe fields of wheat that checkerboard the Great Plains, writing a new ending to one of nature’s most suspenseful thrillers. For growers such as Roy Niebruegge, heaping his freshly threshed grain on the main street of Snyder, Oklahoma, this year’s story had its happiest ending — a yield so bountiful that it filled granaries to overflowing. The citizens of this wheat-belt town were happy, indeed, to lend their pavement last June for temporary storage of 50,000 bushels of the bumper crop which assures them another year of prosperity. Oklahoma’s record-breaking production of 113 million bushels would fill hundreds of miles of streets. And, as the army of combines now cut their way through later-ripening grain of the northern plains, the story is the same: The wheat that supplies our daily bread has won its yearly race against drought, rust, grasshoppers, hailstorms, and other possible disasters.

The only question is: Where shall we put it all?

—“Wheat in the Street,”
Face of America,
August 30, 1958

This article is featured in the July/August 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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