The Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl is one of the most devastating events to affect
the United States. It was a period where severe dust storms kept
hitting the same area, causing immense agricultural and ecological
damage over that period.
The Dust Bowl began in 1930 and went until 1936 (although it
lasted until 1940 in some of the areas more affected by the drought).
It resulted directly from human abuse of the land in the American and
Canadian prairie lands. For years, farmers had been heavily using the
land for farming without rotating crops. Instead they used fallow
fields and cover crops along with many other techniques designed to
turn out the maximum profit, but ended up damaging the land severely.
When the drought hit, these lands dried up so badly that it turned to
dust, blowing eastward in huge clouds.
The Dust Bowl had a profound affect on the people living in
the area at the time. The thousands of farmers who made their living
working on millions of acres of land were suddenly useless. Many were
forced to give up their farms completely and were left homeless and
penniless because they could not work the land that they had been
living on for years. Many of these former farming families traveled
west where they ended up in California and the neighboring states.
Consequently, these people were referred to as "Okies" because so many
had come from Oklahoma, which was the state most affected by the
drought. To make matters worse, the Dust Bowl coincided with the Great
Depression of the 1930s so those families that moved to find work could
find no relief elsewhere, either.
The Dust Bowl didn't just affect a family's finances. It
affected their health as well. Many farmers died from diseases like
dust pneumonia or died from malnutrition because they could not feed
themselves. By the end of the Dust Bowl (1940), 2.5 million Americans
had left the Plains states for other states, the largest migration in
American history. Many didn't return to their farms after the economy
and lands recovered, staying on in their new states, working better