Category: Dust Bowl

Categories: US History | 20th Century | Great Depression | Dust Storms | Droughts


The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands in the 1930s. The phenomenon was caused by severe drought combined with a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion. Extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains in the preceding decade had displaced the natural deep-rooted grasses that normally kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. Rapid mechanization of farm implements, especially small gasoline tractors and widespread use of the combine harvester, were significant in the decisions to convert arid grassland (much of which received no more than 10 inches (250 mm) of precipitation per year) to cultivated cropland.

During the drought of the 1930s, without natural anchors to keep the soil in place, it dried, turned to dust, and blew away with the prevailing winds. At times, the clouds blackened the sky, reaching all the way to East Coast cities such as New York City and Washington, D.C.. These immense dust storms – given names such as "black blizzards" and "black rollers" – often reduced visibility to a few feet (a meter) or less. The "Black Sunday" black blizzards of April 14, 1935, were witnessed by Associated Press reporter Robert E. Geiger who happened to be in Boise City, Oklahoma that day; the term Dust Bowl was coined by Edward Stanley, Kansas City news editor of the Associated Press, while rewriting Geiger's news story.

The drought and erosion of the Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2), centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and adjacent sections of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas.

Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their farms; many of these families (often known as "Okies", since so many came from Oklahoma) migrated to California, and took the new Route 66 and other states, where they found economic conditions little better than those they had left, due to the Great Depression. Author John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men about such people. [1]

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Person Profiles (35)

B

13 Mar 1889 Double Springs, Winston, Alabama, USA - 23 Nov 1956 photo
1906 Missouri, USA - 1972
26 Dec 1903 Pelahatchi, Rankin , Mississippi, United States - 08 May 1967 photo
02 May 1897 Rankin County, Mississippi, United States - 25 Apr 1967
26 Sep 1867 Pike County, Mississippi, United States - 26 Sep 1933

C

10 Jan 1888 Shelby County, Texas, USA - 28 Feb 1959
02 Sep 1894 Texas, USA - 06 Oct 1985
12 Aug 1891 Galmey, Hickory, Missouri, United States - 07 May 1976 photo

D

05 Oct 1918 - 13 Oct 1983 photo
16 Oct 1888 Illinois, United States - 17 Jun 1967

F

25 Apr 1864 Phelps Co., Missouri, United States - 25 Jun 1928 photo
08 Feb 1912 Sedan, Union County, New Mexico - 18 Oct 1999 photo
06 May 1892 Rolla, Texas Co., Missouri - 10 Jun 1952 photo

H

25 Jun 1925 Higgins, Lipscomb, Texas, United States - 11 May 2018
29 Sep 1887 Fort Smith, Sebastian, Arkansas, United States - 22 Oct 1964
16 Feb 1906 Denton County, Texas, USA - 03 Dec 1994 photo

J

04 Oct 1868 Hancock, Tennessee, United States - 05 Dec 1944 photo

L

05 Dec 1912 Henrietta, Clay County, Texas, United States - 23 Oct 1994 photo
20 Nov 1927 Greer, Oklahoma, United States - 11 Mar 1997
abt 07 Feb 1932 Mangum, Greer, Oklahoma, United States - 01 Jun 1984
24 Mar 1887 Dublin, Erath, Texas, United States - 30 Dec 1983 photo
23 Dec 1893 Denton, Texas, USA - 13 Dec 1973
11 Sep 1921 Spearman, Hansford, Texas, USA - 20 Sep 1990 photo

M

05 Oct 1934 Okemah, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, United States - 07 Oct 2015

M cont.

17 Nov 1900 Howard, Elk, Kansas, United States - 20 Jun 1988

R

24 Aug 1868 Ralls County, Missouri, USA - 05 May 1936 photo
30 Aug 1908 Old Hansford, Hansford County, Texas, USA - 21 Dec 1955 photo
31 Jul 1894 El Paso, El Paso, Texas, USA - 12 Jun 1941
15 Sep 1898 Stephens County, Texas, USA - 11 May 1981 photo
09 Mar 1901 Albany, Shackelford, Texas, USA - 21 Jun 1959
27 Aug 1891 El Paso, El Paso, Texas, USA - 28 Apr 1964 photo

S

31 Jan 1903 Aurora, Hamilton, Nebraska, United States - 17 May 1989

T

abt 22 Aug 1859 Texas - 21 Nov 1931 photo

Y

16 Oct 1892 Austin, Cass Co., MO - 16 Jan 1965




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