1935 - Dust Bowl
Title: 1935 - Dust Bowl
About: As high winds and choking dust swept the southern plains of America, from Texas to Nebraska people and livestock were killed and crops failed across the entire region, prompting mass migration of farming families.
The Dust Bowl was caused by several economic and agricultural factors, including federal land policies, changes in regional weather and farm economics. Crops began to fail with the onset of severe droughts, while the bare, over-plowed farmlands were exposed, and started to blow away. High winds and choking dust storms swept the southern plains of America, darkening the skies, sometimes for days at a time. In many places, the dust drifted like snow and residents had to clear it with shovels. Dust worked its way through the cracks of even well-sealed homes, leaving a coating on food, skin and furniture, and made it difficult to breathe.
The worst dust storm occurred on April 14, 1935. News reports called the event Black Sunday. A wall of blowing sand and dust started in the Oklahoma Panhandle and spread east. As many as three million tons of topsoil are estimated to have blown off the Great Plains during Black Sunday.
Roughly 2.5 million people left the Dust Bowl states—Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma—during the 1930s. It was the largest migration in American history. Oklahoma alone lost 440,000 people to migration. Many of them, poverty-stricken, traveled west looking for work. From 1935 to 1940, roughly 250,000 Oklahoma migrants moved to California. A third settled in the state’s agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley.
These Dust Bowl refugees (called “Okies") faced discrimination, menial labor and pitiable wages upon reaching California. Many of them lived in shantytowns and tents along irrigation ditches.
Regular rainfall returned to the region by the end of 1939, bringing the Dust Bowl years to a close. The economic effects, however, persisted. Population declines in the worst-hit counties—where the agricultural value of the land failed to recover—continued well into the 1950s.
Region: North America
Type: Historical Event
Artist: Vlad Nikulin
Price: 0.8 ETH