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Dust Bowl (1930-1936)
Transcript of Dust Bowl (1930-1936)
A Journey Through the Decade.
After nearly a decade of drought, rain finally began to fall on the Great Plains in
: It affected the panhandles of
and touched adjacent sections of
. Though if you look at the map you will see other states that were also affected and how servere the damage was.
The drought and erosion of the Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres forcing tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms. Many of these families, who were often known as "Okies" because so many of them came from Oklahoma, migrated to California and other states to find that the Great Depression had rendered economic conditions there little better than those they had left.
Estimates of over
left dead from dust pneumonia and other dust related deaths. The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history within a short period of time. By 1940, 2.5 million people had moved out of the Plains states; of those, 200,000 moved to California. In just over a year, over 86,000 people migrated to California. This number is more than the number of migrants to that area during the 1849 Gold Rush.
The Economic toll is unknown, however to give an idea of what happened, this chart shows the relative ranking of the 803 counties, by States, based on amount of Federal aid received per-capita.
Dust Bowl (1930-1936)
Also Known as the
By Rachel Allen
- Dust storms are strong windstorms in which suspended dust that is carried by the wind reduces visibility for a significant period of time.
During early European and American exploration of the Great Plains, the region in which the Dust Bowl occurred was thought unsuitable for European-style agriculture; the region was known as the Great American Desert. The lack of surface water and timber made the region less attractive than other areas for pioneer settlement and agriculture. An unusually wet period in the Great Plains mistakenly led settlers and the federal government to believe that "rain follows the plow" (a popular phrase among real estate promoters) and that the climate of the region had changed permanently. While initial agricultural endeavors were primarily cattle ranching, the impact on cattle herds from harsh winters beginning in 1886, a short drought in 1890, and general overgrazing, led to an expansion of land under cultivation. When severe drought struck the Great Plains region in the 1930s, it exposed the increased risk for erosion that was created by the farming practices in use at the time. The drought dried the topsoil and over time it became friable, reduced to a powdery consistency in some places. Without the indigenous grasses in place, the high winds that commonly occur on the plains were able to create the massive dust storms that marked the Dust Bowl period.
One of the main causes was weakened topsoil caused by an overuse of heavy farming equipment. Farmers in the Southern Plains were faring much better than other Americans in 1931 by producing record-breaking crops of wheat [source: PBS]. Tractors with tillers, devices that turn over the topmost soil layer, could prepare more than 15 times as much sod in a day than a tiller behind a team of horses. However, this process had an unforeseen side effect. Tilling also releases underground soil nutrients into the air, weakening the topsoil. The weak topsoil blew right off farmland in the dry winds of the Dust Bowl and added to the problem.
“...With the gales came the dust. Sometimes it was so thick that it completely hid the sun. Visibility ranged from nothing to fifty feet, the former when the eyes were filled with dirt which could not be avoided, even with goggles.”
Library of Congress
“...So the Dust Bowl had taught us another lesson, namely that bare ground exposed to the sun will transform warm breezes into fiery blasts. The hot wind seemed to rob all vegetation of its vitality. This was my first experience of a wind that caused my face to blister so that the skin peeled off.”
Library of Congress
“...Every day I scanned the sky, looking for signs of the rain that would save my wheat from ruin. One after another, neighbors saw their crops reach a condition beyond hope of salvage.”
Library of Congress
“...The doctors of our region know that dust endangers the life of anyone whose health is impaired from disease, and that it is often the direct cause of the deaths of people previously strong and healthy. There are many victims who, because of poverty or prejudice, never go to a hospital, and many patients who are taken there at last by relatives are moribund when admitted, and die within a few hours. ...The dust I had labored in all day began to show its effects on my system. My head ached, my stomach was upset, and my lungs were oppressed and felt as if they must contain a ton a fine dirt.”
This travesty was in some ways was preventable. As you just read the cause of the dust storm was due to “tilling” the land. If the people had slowed down on tilling the land and not overgrazed it, it could have prevented the future issues they would create.
The lesson that can be learned from this is that any event can have tremendous consequences for the future. It is hard to predict the future so we should always be careful of what we do to the Earth.
Before Dust Bowl
After Dust Bowl
This event is a learning experience for us. We need to be more conservative with what we do with this Earth. If we just go ahead and do what we want with the Earth it can lead to ruining it for us and future generations.