“The Dust Bowl was the name given to the drought-stricken Southern Plains region of the United States, which suffered severe dust storms during a dry period in the 1930s” (Editors, 1). This came about when farmers were not educated about the land. The farmers would plow and plant the same crops on the same fields year after year. They never gave the dirt a rest or used fertilisers. When they continued these habits it kicked all the dirt dust in the air and thus became the dust bowl.
The Dust Bowl began on April 14th 1935. It was a typical Sunday for everyone. People were headed to church and many probably had plans at the church after the service. When the people started to leave church they noticed something weird though. The sky had gotten dark and it was silent. No birds or any other animals making noise. Everyone thought it was going to rain so they rushed home. Very soon after, the air got cooler and the sky got even darker. Then the first wave of rolling black dust came through. One reporter wrote on the first day that “uncorked jug placed on the sidewalk for two hours was half filled with sand” (Roop, 4). In the weeks to come many more reports similar to the one about the jug came in. people reported roofs and attics falling in under the weight of the dust and windows being blacked out.
Life was hard during the Dust Bowl. The people that were hit the hardest where the farmers. Many farmers lost their farms and their work due to all the dust. People had started hearing that work was available in California. This is when people started to migrate towards the west coast. The farmers that stuck to the midwest had it even worse. They could hardly grow anything and when they did it was just enough for the family to eat. During all of this, kids still had to go to school. The average person didn’t have a car so the kids would walk to school. Making all the kids walk to school caused a whole new bunch of problems. The children would come home and report red irritated eyes and trouble breathing. Later down the road the parents where finding out that these symptoms were leading to bigger problems. The children were being diagnosed with dust pneumonia. This occurs when you spend so much time breathing in dust or other hazardous things that you then in turn struggle to breath and you cough a lot.
The damages from the Dust bowl was major. There was so much dust that it filled gas tanks. This caused people to not be able to work because there machines wouldn’t run. At the same time this also damaged businesses. People where not leaving home and taking the trains into the city to shop so this caused the trains to quit running and businesses to close down. A man named Bob Burke who has written over 127 articles and books about the 1930s, was asked to elaborate on the dust bowl and here is a bit of what he said: “ There was little food and school was closed for a week. Families who lived far from town were isolated by piles of sand on roads that were far from modern in the first place. Farmers could not grow crops to feed their animals or gardens to feed their families because of the drought, blowing sand, and blistering heat. People began to leave Oklahoma. They lost their property because they could not sell enough crops or cattle to pay mortgages. Families also believed they would die from inhaling dust if they stayed in the region affected by the dust storms. When a baby is born, a wet cloth was placed over its mouth and nose for the first few weeks to keep dust from clogging its airways” (Martins, 3).
Parents wouldn’t allow their kids to go outside. If they did then they had to tie a cloth over their nose and mouth.parents made a new nightly chore for the kids, it was to sweep off everyones beds at night. Many parents quit sending their kids to school for health reasons. A quote from my past.com shows how bad the dust bowl was. “The effect was so bad that in the winter of 1934, red snow fell on New England” (findmypast, paragraph 8). Parents who lived close together would then gather at one house and bunker down for the day and try to teach the kids what little of reading and math they knew.
There where many ways farmers tried to save the soil. Most didn’t work. After seeing that most of the topsoil was gone, the usa knew we had to do something. The solution was to tell farmers to preserve the soil that was left. They added fertilizers to the dirt and decided to rotate crops planted in the fields. This saved the land and stopped another dust bowl from happening again. find my past has a quote that reports “In the fall of 1939, rain finally returned in significant amounts to many areas of the Great Plains, signaling the end of the Dust Bowl. But the damage remained' (findmypast, paragraph16).
After the Dust Bowl around 75% of the topsoil was gone. Some land would never fully recover. Prices of land dropped dramatically. To try and get farmers back to their farms and so did the price of equipment to help them. In the states most affected, land value decreased by up to 30%. Even though these steps were taken to get farmers back to their farms, it didn’t really work. It took all through the 1940’s to get the number of farms back to what they were in the mid 1920’s.
In the end the Dust Bowl was one of the biggest events of the 1930’s for many reasons. It left lots of damage and hurt many families. As it is interesting to learn why it happened, it is also good to learn what the farmers did and can do to insure that another dust bowl doesn't happen or start to happen again.
- Dust bowl https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/dust-bowl October 5th 2019.
- Dust bowl https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl#Aggregate_changes_in_agriculture_and_population_on_the_Plains October 5th 2019.
- The Great depression https://www.ducksters.com/history/us_1900s/daily_life_farm_during_the_great_depression.php October 6th 2019.
- Living in the dust bowl https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/uploadedFiles/schools/rockyhillms/mediacenter/research/worldstudies/living_dustbowl.pdf October 6th 2019.
- The year the dust settled https://www.findmypast.com/blog/history/1939-the-year-the-dust-bowl-settled October 5th 2019.
- To prevent another dust bowl the usa must sow the right seeds. https://www.livescience.com/53574-if-wrong-seeds-planted-after-fires-us-could-face-modern-dust-bowl.html October 7th 2019.
- What was it like being a kid during the dust bowl https://elizabethannemartins.com/2016/10/02/what-was-it-like-being-a-kid-during-the-dust-bowl-a-qa-with-author-bob-burke/ October 9th 2019