On rare occasions when the wind did subside for a period of hours, the air has been so filled with dust that the town appeared to be overhung by a fog cloud. The President's Drought Committee issued a report in 1935 covering the government's assistance to agriculture during 1934 through mid-1935: it discussed conditions, measures of relief, organization, finances, operations, and results of the government's assistance. Three million people left their farms on the Great Plains during the drought and half a million migrated to other states, almost all to the West. FDR in an address on the AAA commented. 1929. [14] While initial agricultural endeavors were primarily cattle ranching, the adverse effect of harsh winters on the cattle, beginning in 1886, a short drought in 1890, and general overgrazing, led many landowners to increase the amount of land under cultivation. Patrick Allitt recounts how fellow historian Donald Worster responded to his return visit to the Dust Bowl in the mid-1970s when he revisited some of the worst afflicted counties: In contrast with Worster's pessimism, historian Mathew Bonnifield argued that the long-term significance of the Dust Bowl was "the triumph of the human spirit in its capacity to endure and overcome hardships and reverses. Eventually the Dust Bowl came to an end in the Fall of 1937. Furthermore, cotton farmers left fields bare during winter months, when winds in the High Plains are highest, and burned the stubble as a means to control weeds prior to planting, thereby depriving the soil of organic nutrients and surface vegetation. President Roosevelt started the ‘Shelterbelt Project’ which proposed planting trees across the Great Plains region in hopes of preventing future erosion(‘Dust Bowl’). Different groups took many different approaches to responding to the disaster. [13] The agricultural methods favored by farmers during this period created the conditions for large-scale erosion under certain environmental conditions. During the Depression and through at least the 1950s, there was limited relative adjustment of farmland away from activities that became less productive in more-eroded counties. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Dust Bowl and the Great Depression . [32] In just over a year, over 86,000 people migrated to California. It paid to have the meat packed and distributed to the poor and hungry. The Dust Bowl area lies principally west of the 100th meridian on the High Plains, characterized by plains which vary from rolling in the north to flat in the Llano Estacado. To identify areas that needed attention, groups such as the Soil Conservation Service generated detailed soil maps and took photos of the land from the sky. Last year the Nation suffered a drought of unparalleled intensity. Here are some interesting facts about the Dust Bowl: •In 1932, there were 14 dust storms recorded on the Plains (an area that included the panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas, southwest Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and Nebraska). With the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, waves of new migrants and immigrants reached the Great Plains, and they greatly increased the acreage under cultivation. The Dust Bowl was a 10-year drought and heat wave that destroyed midwest crops in the 1930s. By 1938, the massive conservation effort had reduced the amount of blowing soil by 65%. Oklahoma migrants, in particular, were rural Southwesterners who carried their traditional country music to California. More than 350 houses had to be torn down after one storm alone. The federal government encouraged settlement and development of the Plains for agriculture via the Homestead Act of 1862, offering settlers ”quarter section” 160-acre (65 ha) plots. [16] During the next decade, the northern plains suffered four of their seven driest calendar years since 1895, Kansas four of its twelve driest,[17] and the entire region south to West Texas[18] lacked any period of above-normal rainfall until record rains hit in 1941. From 1910 to the 1940s, total farmland increased and remained constant until 1970 when it slightly declined. Without the indigenous grasses in place, the high winds that occur on the plains picked up the topsoil and created the massive dust storms that marked the Dust Bowl period. Under the law, "benefit payments were continued as measures for production control and income support, but they were now financed by direct Congressional appropriations and justified as soil conservation measures. written by Lynette Boone, University of Oregon References. a series of dust storms that created an environmental disaster in the western part of the United States in the 1930's [39], In 1935, the federal government formed a Drought Relief Service (DRS) to coordinate relief activities. [1], During President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first 100 days in office in 1933, his administration quickly initiated programs to conserve soil and restore the ecological balance of the nation. Artists such as Dorothea Lange were aided by having salaried work during the Depression. Cotton goods were later included, to clothe the needy. [39] The land still failed to yield a decent living. While the term "the Dust Bowl" was originally a reference to the geographical area affected by the dust, today it usually refers to the event itself (the term "Dirty Thirties" is also sometimes used). So many families left their farms and were on the move that the proportion between migrants and residents was nearly equal in the Great Plains states. The event is completely FREE. Learn about the Dust Bowl, New Deal, causes of the Great Depression, a Great Depression timeline more. https://www.britannica.com/place/Dust-Bowl. Babb, Sanora, Dorothy Babb, and Douglas Wixson. [3] The widespread conversion of the land by deep plowing and other soil preparation methods to enable agriculture eliminated the native grasses which held the soil in place and helped retain moisture during dry periods. Waves of European settlers arrived in the plains at the beginning of the 20th century. To finalize, the Dust Bowl was a very difficult time for many people. The land and revenue began increasing again in 1940, and has been increasing since then. Many others remained where they had resettled. "[47], The crisis was documented by photographers, musicians, and authors, many hired during the Great Depression by the federal government. [3], With insufficient understanding of the ecology of the plains, farmers had conducted extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains during the previous decade; this had displaced the native, deep-rooted grasses that normally trapped soil and moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. Author John Steinbeck, borrowing closely from field notes taken by Farm Security Administration worker and author Sanora Babb,[citation needed] wrote The Grapes of Wrath (1939) about migrant workers and farm families displaced by the Dust Bowl. [29] Many Americans migrated west looking for work. [44] Numerous exhibits are included in this report. It is now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).[37]. To stabilize prices, the government paid farmers and ordered more than six million pigs to be slaughtered. To create shelterbelts to reduce soil erosion, groups such as the United States Forestry Service's Prairie States Forestry Project planted trees on private lands. In the fall of 1939, after nearly a decade of dirt and dust, the drought ended when regular rainfall finally returned to the region. During early European and American exploration of the Great Plains, this region was thought unsuitable for European-style agriculture; explorers called it the Great American Desert. Beginning on May 9, 1934, a strong, two-day dust storm removed massive amounts of Great Plains topsoil in one of the worst such storms of the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl not … The government paid reluctant farmers a dollar an acre to practice the new methods. The region is also prone to extended drought, alternating with unusual wetness of equivalent duration. Definition and Summary of the Dust Bowl Summary and Definition: The Dust Bowl was a "decade-long disaster" and a series of droughts was one of the worst natural disaster in American history. The prairie needed its grass, or crops like wheat, to hold down the soil and dirt. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Learn more about what caused the stock market crash and see a demonstration of what caused the dust storms of the 1930s followed by a fun activity you can enjoy together at home. The DRS assigned the remaining cattle to the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC) to be used in food distribution to families nationwide. The Dust Bowl disaster was caused by a series of devastating droughts in the 1930s, poor soil conservation techniques and over-farming. Agricultural Adjustment Administration and Murphy, Philip G., (1935). Imagine soil so dry that plants disappear and dirt blows past your door like sand. Along with inspiration from the 1930s crisis, director Christopher Nolan features interviews from the 2012 documentary The Dust Bowl to draw further parallels. The Dust Bowl described what Great Depression situation? The Great Depression During the Great Depression more than 11,000 banks failed, unemployment was at an all time high of 25% and over $1 billion in bank deposits were lost Period: 1929 to 1939. In the decade prior to the crash of 1929, the nation became polarized between rich and poor. See some of those who lived through it, their thousand-yard stares, and the ghostly landscapes they traveled through in the Dust Bowl pictures above. Agricultural land and revenue boomed during World War I, but fell during the Great Depression and the 1930s. Migrants also influenced musical culture wherever they went. Spearman and Hansford County have been literaly [sic] in a cloud of dust for the past week. Based on a 1939 survey of occupation by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of about 116,000 families who arrived in California in the 1930s, he learned that only 43 percent of southwesterners were doing farm work immediately before they migrated. The lack of surface water and timber made the region less attractive than other areas for pioneer settlement and agriculture. The 2014 science fiction film Interstellar features a ravaged 21st-century America which is again scoured by dust storms (caused by a worldwide pathogen affecting all crops). [20] The persistent dry weather caused crops to fail, leaving the plowed fields exposed to wind erosion. 3 months ago. Of all the droughts that have occurred in the United States, the drought events of the 1930s are widely considered to be the “drought of record” for the nation. Dust Bowl 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, particularly in 1934 and 1936 The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades [54], In 2017, Americana recording artist Grant Maloy Smith released the album Dust Bowl – American Stories, which was inspired by the history of the Dust Bowl. Jackrabbit drives in western Kansas were viewed as a battle of survival between farmers and the rabbits during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the mid 1930s. On April 14, 1935, known as "Black Sunday", 20 of the worst "black blizzards" occurred across the entire sweep of the Great Plains, from Canada south to Texas. Although it was difficult for farmers to give up their herds, the cattle slaughter program helped many of them avoid bankruptcy. In 1941, a Kansas agricultural experiment station released a bulletin that suggested reestablishing native grasses by the "hay method". Dust Bowl Facts ~ Great Depression. [7] The Dust Bowl forced tens of thousands of poverty-stricken families to abandon their farms, unable to pay mortgages or grow crops, and losses reached $25 million per day by 1936 (equivalent to $460,000,000 in 2019). [27] Dust Bowl conditions fomented an exodus of the displaced from Texas, Oklahoma, and the surrounding Great Plains to adjacent regions. Apples, beans, canned beef, flour and pork products were distributed through local relief channels. In 1935, many families were forced to leave their farms and travel to other areas seeking work because of the drought (which at that time had already lasted four years). Much of the farmland was eroded in the aftermath of the Dust Bowl. Land degradation varied widely. Kraft food introduced Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in 1937. Their new music inspired a proliferation of country dance halls as far south as Los Angeles. Nearly one-third of all migrants were professional or white-collar workers. The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and New Deal in Oklahoma What was the Dust Bowl? [22], The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history within a short period of time. [25]:3 Even over the long-term, the agricultural value of the land often failed to recover to pre-Dust Bowl levels. [55] In a review, the music magazine No Depression wrote that the album's lyrics and music are "as potent as Woody Guthrie, as intense as John Trudell and dusted with the trials and tribulations of Tom Joad – Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath. A lot of the Plains wet weather seemingly confirmed a previously held opinion that the `` hay method '' many. Wind erosion difficult for farmers to give up their herds, the Dust Bowl exodus was worst... 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