A severe drought sweeped the central plains of the US in the 1930’s. This drought was named the Dust Bowl or often referred to as the Dirty Thirties. The term Dust Bowl from Edward Stanley, a news editor from Kansas City press, named it the Dust Bowl in one of his stories in 1935, and the name stuck.
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The Dust Bowl lasted a decade and made life very hard for the people who lived among the central plains of the US. The Dust Bowl would greatly contribute to the Great Depression with the food shortage, destruction, and huge masses of migration.
Many people know about the Dust Bowl and the severe conditions that many families faced. However, they don’t know how the Dust Bowl occurred. It was caused by poor agricultural practices, severe drought, and the combination of wind and erosion. Failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent the aeolian processes caused the phenomenon. The mechanization of farm equipment and new farming technology advancements created more harm than good. The farmers were not supplied with the knowledge to farm appropriately with the conditions they were given. Many farmers used the technique of deep plowing, on a major scale. It removed virgin topsoil with grasslands and de rooted what was holding down the dust and dirt. Which in case caused huge dust storms and a severe drought.
The Dust storms were so thick they often had close to three feet of visibility. These choking clouds of dust caught the names Black Blizzards and Black Rollers. Dust was everywhere, even through the cracks of well sealed homes; it was impossible to escape. One of the most notable major dust storms in the Dust Bowl was known as Black Sunday, commonly known as the worst dust storm in american history. Black Sunday occurred on April 14 and mainly affected the panhandle of Oklahoma. Eventually, moving South, it estimated 300 million tons of topsoil being displaced throughout the land. These dust storms also caused a number of health problems. It is unclear how many people actually died from health conditions caused from the dust. Many people developed dust pneumonia and experienced difficulty breathing along with chest pain.
Many people migrated to escape the Dust Bowl: to find new jobs, new lifestyles, and a chance for survival. Nearly 2.5 million left the Dust Bowl states in the 1930’s making it the largest migration in american history. Many of these migrants decided to settle in California. Many of the migrants coming from Oklahoma caught the name Okies. This name would soon become used in a discriminatory way. With all the migrants coming they took alot of jobs. The name Okies would soon be used to refer to any poor Dust Bowl migrant looking for a job regardless of their origin.
The Dust Bowl greatly affects me and my family’s past. On my grandmothers side of the family they migrated from Oklahoma to California along with many more migrants seeking a better life. The journey they faced meant facing discrimination, while facing many other adversities; such as being poor. It took mountains of faith to overcome major task thrown their way. My grandma was just a kid when they decided to move back to Oklahoma. The Dust Bowl also taught many how to farm the correct way without damage or backlash. These practices taught my grandfather’s family how to farm the safe, and correct way along with many other farmers across america. Thanks to the lessons we learned from the Dust Bowl my grandfather’s family was able to farm the right way on the land that was passed down to them from generations before them.
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