Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Lucien Robinson, February 25, 1981

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Robinson's background with the Soil Conservation Service in Robertson County, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Lucien Robinson in Pickaway, Kentucky, February 25th, I think.

Segment Synopsis: Robinson gives a lengthy explanation of his route from teaching school to working for the Soil Conservation Service in a 30 year career.

Keywords: A. Square Williams; A.M. Harris; Agricultural Adjustment Administration; Agricultural Extension Services; Clinton Jett; Gladys Duncan; Great Depression; J.T. Bond; Mount Olive High School; Ray Simms; Tom Ford; Tom Quizzenberry

Subjects: Robertson County (Ky.); Soil conservation.; Teachers--Kentucky; United States. Soil Conservation Service.

00:15:10 - Soil erosion and conservation districts in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Now, we can--after a while we can go back to the programs that developed out of that district office--

Segment Synopsis: A brief description of how soil conservation districts grew of out soil erosion legislation.

Keywords: Dust Bowl; Erosion; Great Depression; Highland W. Limble; Kentucky

Subjects: Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Robertson County (Ky.); Soil conservation

00:18:26 - Wind erosion of soil due to cultivation and clear cutting

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Partial Transcript: Well, what, what kinds of soil erosion problems existed here?

Segment Synopsis: Robinson talks about a long trajectory of issues that contribute to soil erosion. He talks about settlers in the early 19th century clear cutting, over working the soil, and soil depletion.

Keywords: Beef; Clear cutting; Corn; Daniel Boone; Drought; Dust; Frank Dunn; Livestock; Water; Wind

Subjects: Erosion; Soil conservation; Traditional farming

00:26:23 - Use of bottomland and hillsides / river shipping of livestock in the mid-west region

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Partial Transcript: How about, how--we've talked in the past about the fact that, that bottoms and hillsides are used differently now than they were in the past.

Segment Synopsis: Robinson discusses the different uses of bottom land and hillside farming through the 19th and 20th century. He identifies clearing timber and over-cultivation of land as contributing factors for soil erosion. Robinson segues into discussing moving cattle and horses on the rivers in the Midwest.

Keywords: Beef; Blue Lake; Corn; Dust Bowl; Floods; Grass; Hillsides; Hogs; Pepper; Ridge land; Rivers; Shipping; Tobacco

Subjects: Erosion; Robertson County (Ky.); Traditional farming; Transportation

00:44:43 - Soil loss, erosion, and flooding in Robertson County

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Partial Transcript: Now, um, uh, we might return back to some of the things that caused the, uh, whatever erosion problems there were...

Segment Synopsis: Robinson discusses soil loss, the use of fertilizer, and nutrient rich mud resulting from flooding.

Keywords: Fertilizers; Gullies; Gully; Phosphates; Soil loss; Topsoil

Subjects: Erosion; Floods--Kentucky

00:49:36 - Good farming, contour farming, and preventing soil erosion

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Partial Transcript: What, what kind of, what kind of, um--I, I guess when you think about two different categories...

Segment Synopsis: Robinson discusses farming practices that contribute to erosion and lists ways to farm that preserve the soil, including a detailed description of how to create diversion channels.

Keywords: Contour farming; Contours; Cultivation; Disc plows; Parallel terracing; Pikeville (Ky.); Plowing; Rivers; Slopes; Terraces; Water

Subjects: Erosion; Traditional farming

00:58:33 - Spring and stock water development to mitigate soil loss

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Partial Transcript: Uh huh. Oh yeah, that's right, you told me about your, your trip up there.

Segment Synopsis: Robinson talks about spring development as a lead initiative of soil conservation. He talks about designing and developing concrete tanks with Tom Ford for more than 100 spring tanks.

Keywords: C.R. House; Divining; Dowsing; Journalism; Kentucky Western; Newspapers; Spring development; Stock water; Water witch

Subjects: Soil conservation.; Water resources development

01:05:03 - The response from farmers regarding soil conservation efforts / practices in the field to implement plans

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Partial Transcript: When you were, uh, working there in that, uh--soil conservation what--did you get a response from young, young farmers and old farmers alike?

Segment Synopsis: Robinson talks about the reaction from farmers to soil conservation efforts and the voluntary nature of the program. He then talks about the work done on site to fence, terrace, and plumb the springs.

Keywords: Doc Landum; Fencing; Luke Jones; Plans; Springs; Tobacco Acreage Program; Voluntary

Subjects: Farmers.; Soil conservation.

01:13:07 - The role of farm roads in soil conservation

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Partial Transcript: What kind of, uh--you know there were people less involved in, in the, uh, in the practice, to some extent.

Segment Synopsis: A discussion of farm planning, with emphasis on the importance of farm roads for soil conservation and fencing for controlling land use.

Keywords: Classification; Fencing; Livestock; Plans

Subjects: Rural roads; Soil conservation.; Traditional farming

01:15:39 - Leased land in soil conservation

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Partial Transcript: Did you, uh--were, were there many cases where you'd do, uh, projects on, uh, on rented land?

Segment Synopsis: A brief response to whether or not work was done on rented land.

Keywords: Leased; Rented; Tenants

Subjects: Farm tenancy; Soil conservation.

01:16:25 - The types of people who took advantage of soil conservation plans

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Partial Transcript: Right, And did you, um, uh--let's see, uh, were there any people that kind of resisted the idea...

Segment Synopsis: Robinson talks about the interest and commitment to soil conservation efforts.

Keywords: 4-H; Farmers; Labor; Planning; Resistance; Voluntary

Subjects: Soil conservation.

01:20:19 - Soil conservation and the role of religion / limited opposition to soil conservation

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Partial Transcript: I noticed, uh--or I've heard people refer to, uh, uh, a couple things that I, I was wondering how you, how you would relate to them.

Segment Synopsis: Robinson explains the role of preachers, the bible, and church in supporting soil conservation and land stewardship. Robinson then discusses limited opposition to the program because of the voluntary nature of the program.

Keywords: Bible; Churches; Community; Cooperation; Dams; Kentucky River Coalition; Logrolling; Opposition; Preaching; Stewardship; Tom Ford

Subjects: Kentucky--Religion; Soil conservation.

01:26:11 - Commitment and stewardship to take care of the land

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Partial Transcript: Now one, one of the things that I--and, and this may be the last point, and that is that, that, uh, I've noticed that people--that some people, place a real high value on taking care of the land....

Segment Synopsis: Robinson talks about long term soil conservation in light of strip mine reclamation. He notes the need for roads and housing in rural Kentucky. Segment ends mid sentence.

Keywords: Erosion; Farmers; Marvin Lanham; Reclamation; Robert Frost; Stripmining; Voluntary; Volunteer

Subjects: Coal mines and mining--Kentucky; Robertson County (Ky.); Rural conditions; Soil conservation.; Strip mining