Friday, March 11, 2011

The Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl was the worst ecological disaster of all time.  It lasted about ten years, from the early thirties to the late thirties, and it extended up into Canada.  How people lasted on their farms all this time I cannot imagine.

People were urged by the government to have this last free land not settled in the USA.  The first two decades of the 1900s, had higher than normal rainfall which was deceptive to these new farmers; who had been given 150 acres and in the higher plains 300 acres to turn and farm.  When they first turned the soil they said it was so rich it looked like chocolate.

Some startling statistics are these:
  • The dirt that was lost would fill the Grand Canyon half way up
  • Six tons of dirt for every citizen in the United States
  • Black Sunday Blizzard 1935 more dust went into the sky in one day than dirt dug out of the Panama Canal in seven years, it blew all the way to Washington DC
Many people got what they called dust pneumonia, but it was really a form of silicosis.  Many children died.  On Black Sunday many people died or went blind, if caught out in it. The death of live stock and wildlife was over-whelming.

Outside the Southern Plains few understood the scale of the disaster, it was over shadowed by the Depression. 

See a program on it Surviving the Dust Bowl

Is this being repeated today, yes in China and sub-Saharan Africa.


1 comment:

  1. Oh,I had to comment on the picture of the dust bowl in Dodge City, Kansas. I grew up just 50 miles west of there and my Dad grew up where I grew up. He lived his whole life in Garden City, Kansas and lived through the Dust Bowl. He told stories of the dirt coming right through the walls of their farmhouse and how every animal on their place died. Every time we go back to Kansas, we just have to go visit the old farmhouse and farm. People seemed tougher then. I sure wish my Daddy was still here to tell me more stories but I do have great memories of how excited he got when he talked about it.
    Thanks for posting the pictures.
    Marilyn in NM


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