Another main cause of the Great Depression at the beginning of the 1930’s, other than the crash of the stock market, was the drought that hit the Midwest. The drought ruined almost all plantations and farmlands there. The Dust Bowl was one of the Midwest areas that suffered the most from that drought. All the soil lost its capabilities to grow any kind of crops and basically turned into dust. The Dust Bowl included all the plantations that were in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico.
How did the Dust Bowl start?
First, it stopped raining in these areas for many years. As a result, the soil dried out and turned to dust. In addition, the farmers tried to grow wheat in hopes that it would help the soil hold moisture. They turned the soil up in preparation for planting the wheat. However, it did not work and all the manipulation ended up hurting the land and the topsoil even more.
With most of the land turned to dust, the wind forced the dust into major dust storms. People called the dust storms “black blizzards.” The storms covered Midwest houses and made it almost impossible for the people to breathe. These storms were not only affecting the Midwest. The storms blew so hard it that the dust reached states on the east coast!
The Dust Bowl’s effect on the Great Depression
Life with all the dust became nearly impossible. Even when there was not a dust storm, people’s lives revolved around getting the dust out of their homes and off their things. As breathing became harder and harder, most farmers left their lands and moved to the cities trying to find jobs and better lives.
Since the unemployment rate in the cities was already high, adding the farmers to the mix did not make things any better. Poor farmers who had to work to be able to feed their families started accepting hard work for long hours in exchange for enough food for their children.
The people of California started calling farmers who looked for any work “Okies” relating to the fact that many of them were originally from Oklahoma.
Was staying in the Dust Bowl better?
Many argued that it would have been much better for these farmers to stay back home in the Dust Bowl, especially when the government started a program to help the people who did not leave their homes in these areas.
The government stepped in to teach the farmers better practices rather than the ones that contributed to ruining the soil. The government also bought and preserved a large portion of the Dust Bowl farmlands to give it a chance to recover so that people would be able to plant and grow crops on it again one day. It was very hard for those who stayed and chose to live with the dust, but eventually, the land fully recovered by the beginning of the 1940’s.