Two Sisters With A Wish Created a Black Oasis

wagon tracks down the dry bed of the colorado river
Via Picryl
Adé Hennis
May 29, 2024

When Josephine and Lenora Rucker saw their employer used irrigation farming to grow melons, they knew they could do it, too. So around 1915, the sisters established their own community called “The Dry.” But with no water and no help, the sisters were going to need backup.

They recruited people from across the Midwest, telling them about a “Black utopia free of discrimination.” It didn’t take long for people to show up and show out.

Approximately 50 families helped the sisters put in an irrigation system. “They opened the headgates and let the water come down through the canal and irrigated this wheat field, and it was quite a thing,” said a former Dry resident.

In the early 1920s, the dam broke. Then the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl forced many families to leave. However, as late as 1983, some people were still living in The Dry, having adapted their farming methods. They are proud of the land and the community they built. They should be.

Josephine and Lenora Rucker built a community out of nothing in the middle of nowhere. They weren’t afraid to dream of doing the impossible, and to make that dream come true. How can they inspire us to dream a better reality for ourselves?