Dirt, Disease, And Death: What Life Was Like During The Dust Bowl

Dust Bowl Car Road

A car tries to outrun a massive wall of dust; storms could reach speeds of up to 60 mph Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1930s, the Great Plains of the United States had a bad drought. But it wasn’t drought that turned these grasslands into the Dust Bowl. The worst environmental disaster in the history of our nation was caused by man.

Most folks that lived in the Great Plains in the 30s moved there to take advantage of cheap farmland the government offered. Washington wanted wheat and the Plains were grasslands; it seemed to make sense.

The problem was that wheat has a short root system. The hardy prairie grass that the farmers tore out had roots several inches deep, allowing the plant to hang onto the soil when the heavy Plains winds blew as they had for thousands of years. It wasn’t so much a problem of the wheat blowing away, it was that the wheat wasn’t strong enough to keep the topsoil from the mouth of that hungry wind.

Dust Bowl Texas 1935

Dust storm looms over Stratford, Texas Source: Wikipedia

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