During the Dust Bowl years, many Texans lost their capacity to earn a livelihood. The Panhandle and western Texas were the most devastated parts of the state. Farmers who lost harvests, livestock, and equipment were unable to recover. Many gave up and left for California or other states where jobs were available. By 1936, when drought finally ended the dust bowl, more than 100,000 people were living in homeless shelters across Texas.
The Plains States from North Dakota to South Carolina were also affected by the dust bowl. In addition to losing crops, farmers experienced water shortages and increased rates of unemployment.
In conclusion, West Texas and the Panhandle suffered the greatest losses during the Dust Bowl. Between one-third and one-half of all wheat and corn production was reduced by poor soil conditions. Additionally, many farms had no cash value so they could not be sold when ownership changed hands. Finally, poverty among farmers caused them to lose their protection under the Homestead Act which allowed anyone over 18 years old to claim land worth up to 40 acres of public domain land.
The Vast Depression, sometimes known as the "Dust Bowl," had the greatest impact on the country's great farming areas. Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, Kansas, Colorado, and parts of New Mexico were all destroyed. Tens of thousands of farmers lost their land and were forced to relocate.
The government helped farmers find work in cities, but this was not easy because many jobs were going to immigrants who worked for less pay. Some farmers turned to crime to get by.
In 1930, President Hoover signed into law a new agricultural program called the "New Deal." The program provided money to help farmers purchase equipment and adopt modern farming methods. It also created two new federal agencies: the Rural Rehabilitation Administration to provide loans to farmers unable to obtain credit elsewhere and the Farmers Home Loan Corporation to give out home mortgage loans at low rates of interest.
These programs were important steps forward, but they didn't stop the decline of the farming industry. By the mid-1930s, over one million acres of farmland were abandoned each year. This amount is almost equal to the entire state of West Virginia. In 1940, after years of declining prices and profits, most farmers gave up and stopped planting crops.
However, some farmers stayed on the land even if they weren't making any money. They did this because they believed it was their duty to take care of the family farm and keep it in circulation.
Western Texas, eastern New Mexico, the Oklahoma Panhandle, western Kansas, and eastern Colorado were the most hit. This ecological and economic calamity, as well as the region where it occurred, became known as the Dust Bowl.
The drought and wind conditions that caused the dust storms are still cited as causes of loss of life and property. Thousands of people were left homeless, many lost their farms, and some states affected included California, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The dust storms first came to attention in April 1935 when a storm moved across much of Western Texas causing widespread damage. The term "dust bowl" was first used by Roy Stoner, an Oklahoma newspaperman, to describe the disaster. Later that year another huge dust storm swept through eastern New Mexico.
In 1936 reports came out that said farmers were able to grow crops within the borders of what would become the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the first time since 1920. However, there is evidence to suggest that farming practices had changed and that this may have been due to government intervention. It has been suggested that if this was true then the phrase "Dust Bowl Farming" should be changed to "Harvest Belt Farming".
Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas were all affected by the 1930s Dust Bowl. The panhandle cities and communities in Oklahoma saw the greatest droughts and dust storms (map courtesy of PBS). Millions of dollars' worth of livestock died and farmers gave up on parts of their land for want of water.
The drought and dust bowl conditions in Oklahoma lasted from about 1934 to 1940. During that time, farmers in the state lost over $100 million worth of crops.
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The Dust Bowl was a series of dust storms that ravaged Texas and Oklahoma's panhandles during the 1930s. Dalhart, Pampa, Spearman, and Amarillo are among the Texas cities affected. These dusters wrecked Texas houses, degraded whole farmlands, and caused significant physical and mental health issues. Many people were forced to move away from the devastated areas to make way for cattle ranches or new housing developments.
The dust bowl conditions in Texas lasted from about 1934 until around 1940. By then, only small parts of the state were still suffering from drought and high winds. The federal government funded research projects and sent scientists out into the fields to learn more about soil quality and farming practices that would help prevent another dust bowl situation.
People living in dust bowl regions are at risk for lung disease, heart problems, anxiety, and depression because of the dangerous conditions surrounding them every day. Children born into these families have an increased chance of dying before reaching adulthood due to malnutrition and lack of medical care. After the dust bowl, many farmers turned to tilling solid waste such as brickyard clay and sand pits under the assumption that this contaminated land could be used for growing crops. However, these methods produced poor results and added to the problem by spreading the contamination further.
Finally, legal actions were taken against oil companies that kept dumping chemical-laden drilling fluid into these waste sites instead of disposing of it properly.