Dust after chugging past them in the blinding
Dust Bowl Research Essay “The wind rises, and suddenly all movement stops. The surface of the land floats up, and thick clouds of dust darken the sun. Drivers in their automobiles shiver with fear. Even with their headlights on they cannot see the road ahead. Train engineers back into stations after chugging past them in the blinding murk. In cities hundreds of miles away from the center of the dust storm, people shut their windows and doors and tape up the frames to keep out the invading dust. But a fog of dust fills the rooms relentlessly, settles slowly and silently, covering people and furniture and carpets in a thick, brownish gray blanket. Outside, bewildered hawks with bleak cries soar higher and higher into the blackened sky” (Meltzer 7). The Dust Bowl was a period of destruction where massive dust storms destroyed farms and made many people ill; this created a large famine of crops which greatly affected the people of this time. In life we go through ups and downs and experience the tragedies of the world. We are often let down, as things in our life do not go as planned. Although humans go through great loss and tragedy, not many experience the type of disaster that the people of the Great Plains experienced. “Blinding dust storms whipped across the heartland of the United States in the 1930s. The storms blew tons of rich soil off the fields. Millions of acres of farmland were destroyed. Dead cattle and ruined tractors lay half-buried in the dust. Hundreds of thousands of farmers packed up and left their homes. This sad scene became known as the Dust Bowl” (Heinrichs 5). The Dust Bowl era, taking place in the 1930s, was known as the Dirty thirties. Farmers overused soil, wearing it out and making it dry and unusable. Throughout the Great Plains, a drought occurred which formed dust storms caused by soil drying off the fields. (Heinrichs 7). “The Dust Bowl covered the southern part of the Great Plains. This is a vast area in the center of the United States. It includes Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. The damage from dust storms also reached into Arkansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota– making this one of the nation’s worst disasters” (Heinrichs 6). When a catastrophe occurs, people immediately start pointing fingers, but the Dust Storms were not natural disasters. The Dust Bowl was a man made calamity.During the time of World War I the demand of wheat and beef went up. After the war ended, farmers and ranchers made less money. Without money they were unable to pay mortgages or buy farming materials like seed and fertilizer. In the past, farmers used horse-drawn plows, turning over 3 acres of land. It was when farmers began using tractors when the land started to fail. At the time, a tractor could plow 50 acres a day. The use of tractors pulled up roots and topsoil, and the land began to decompose. The erosion swept away the soil, causing the Dust Bowl. (Heinrichs 12-13). “Black Tuesday– October 29,1929. That was the day the stock market crashed” (Heinrichs 14). “With people unable to repay their loans, many banks across the country closed too. Some people had their life’s savings in banks. In one day, they lost every penny they had saved in these banks. The entire country entered a period called the Great Depression” (Heinrichs 15). Without a job, or any money many people decided to move west for a better life.”The dust storms of the 1930s ranked among the worst environmental disasters in world history… In one of the worst storms– the “black blizzard” of May 11, 1934–300 million tons of soil were blown away. The storms went on for seven long years. Years that were marked too by the Great Depression. It wasn’t only the terrible weather that drove farmers to migrate west. It was also the hard times a vast number of Americans suffered in that decade” (Meltzer 11). “By 1934, farmers had sold 10 percent of all their farms. Half of those sales were caused by the depression and drought. By 1937, more than one out of five farmers were on federal emergency relief. Families migrated to California or cities to find work that often didn’t exist by the time they got there. Many ended up living as homeless “hobos.” Others lived in shantytowns called “Hoovervilles,” named after then-President Herbert Hoover” (“How the Dust Bowl Environmental Disaster Impacted the U.S. Economy”). “About one million people took to the road during the worst years of the Depression. Many were refugees from the Dust Bowl, the families of homesteading pioneers who had at last given up their struggle to make a living on the land. These were the “removal” migrants, forced into migratory life by loss of land or a job” (Meltzer 58). “Along U.S. Highway 30 they walked or drove through the Idaho hills, along Route 66 across New Mexico and Arizona, along the Old Spanish Trails through El Paso, along all the other westward roads. In a single hour an observer watching beside an Idaho road counted thirty-four autos with license plates of states between Chicago and the Rocky Mountains. They were part of a vast migratory movement” -Frederick Lewis Allen (Meltzer 55). The Dust Bowl also affected the economy in various ways. “In 1937, the Works Progress Administration reported that drought was the main reason for relief in the Dust Bowl region. More than two-thirds were farmers. Total assistance was estimated at $1 billion in 1930s dollars. The report found that losses in the Dust Bowl affected the entire national economy. The Dust Bowl greatly worsened the effects of the Great Depression” (“How the Dust Bowl Environmental Disaster Impacted the U.S. Economy”). To reduce supply and boost prices, the public protested the wasting of food after 6 million pigs were slaughtered in 1933. As a result, the government created the Surplus Relief Corporation. In doing this, all extra crops and farm output went to the homeless (“How the Dust Bowl Environmental Disaster Impacted the U.S. Economy”). “In 1937, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) reported that drought was the principal reason for economic relief assistance in the Great Plains region during the 1930s (Link et al., 1937). Federal aid to the drought-affected states was first given in 1932, but the first funds marked specifically for drought relief were not released until the fall of 1933. In all, assistance may have reached $1 billion (in 1930s dollars) by the end of the drought (Warrick et al., 1980)” (“Drought Basics”). The Dust Bowl was a truly terrible time for America. This devastating time changed U.S. history and affected so many lives. “The Dust Bowl could happen again. Agribusiness is draining the groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer eight times faster than rain is putting it back. The Aquifer stretches from South Dakota to Texas. It’s home to a $20-billion-a-year industry that grows nearly one-fifth of the United States’ wheat, corn and beef cattle. It supplies about 30 percent of the nation’s irrigation water. At the current rate of use, the groundwater will be gone within the century. Parts of the Texas Panhandle are already running dry. Scientists say it would take 6,000 years for to refill the aquifer… The Dust Bowl could happen again. Agribusiness is draining the groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer eight times faster than rain is putting it back. The Aquifer stretches from South Dakota to Texas. It’s home to a $20-billion-a-year industry that grows nearly one-fifth of the United States’ wheat, corn and beef cattle. It supplies about 30 percent of the nation’s irrigation water. At the current rate of use, the groundwater will be gone within the century. Parts of the Texas Panhandle are already running dry. Scientists say it would take 6,000 years for to refill the aquifer” (How the Dust Bowl Environmental Disaster Impacted the US). Works CitedAmadeo, Kimberly. “How the Dust Bowl Environmental Disaster Impacted the U.S. Economy”. The Balance. 10 December 2017.