Remembering the Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl was a significant event in our country’s history that had various lasting effects on American Society. Social, economic, and political changes occurred because of this disastrous and difficult time in America. The Dust Bowl was a turning point in the Great Plaines, moreover, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, and a small portion of Texas. It changed life as Americans knew it during the 1930’s. It created a large economic and agricultural recession. This left the United States in a greater deficit than it previously stood which was originally created by the Great Depression.
The Dust Bowl retrieved its name after Black Sunday on April 14, 1935. Prior to 1935 many dust storms had occurred. In 1932 a calculation of fourteen dust storms were recorded in the Plains and by 1938 there were a total of 38 storms recorded. The Dust Bowl is described as one of the most catastrophic events of the early 1900s. The Great Plains was a region of the United States that witnessed 100 million acres of topsoil being stripped from over used farmland. It was characterized by many factors such as poor farming practices, severe wind storms, and droughts lasting several years.
It was an immense and powerful storm that literally covered the Midwest and blanketed many states by making their acres of farmland highly unusable. One analytic historian inquired, “Ultimately it resulted in the activation of a geomorphic process (intense wind erosion) which, when human society could not adapt to it, cascaded into unprecedented agricultural, economic, and societal collapse in its core region. ” (A Critical Evaluation of the Dust Bowl and its Causes). The Dust Bowl is frequently referred back to as an example of a manmade environmental disaster.
However, the destruction primarily affected the farming in the Great Plains because the terrain is mostly grassland and it relies on the root systems of grasses to hold down the topsoil necessary for producing crops. Unfortunately, popular farming practices that were utilized to preserve top soil were not used to prevent this occurrence. This inquisition, along with weather conditions, provided insight as a few causes of the Dust Bowl. Although humans were not the main cause of the Dust Bowl, they played an active role. Poor agricultural practices and years of constant drought caused the Dust Bowl.
During the years when there was a sufficient amount of rainfall, the farmland produced an immense amount of vegetation and crops. Vegetation and crops are supposed to be grown according to the type of crop they are, and based on the crop type they are placed in specific areas around the field. In addition, farmers also began to plow the natural grass cover and plant their own crops. Since the original root systems of the grass were not available to hold down the soil, most of it blew away and disintegrated. The wide row crops were catastrophic because between the crops, the land was kept plain.
The soil became exhausted because the nutrients in it were being utilized by the plants quicker than they could be replaced. This in effect, caused droughts to occur during the early 1930s. Farmers continued planting and plowing, and as expected, nothing would cultivate and the ground cover that concealed the nutrient filled soil was diminished. Since there was nothing left to secure the topsoil, the land became easily accessible for enormous amounts of dust to be blown huge distances by the winds in the area. . By 1934, it calculated that over 100 million acres of farmland had lost most or all their topsoil to the winds.
These winds varied anywhere from zero to sixty five miles per hour. The southern Plains winds’ thrashed across the farmlands and fields which raised billowing clouds to the sky. As winds picked up and crops died, more dust storms began to occur. For days on end the sky could darken, and in some areas the dust glided similarly to snow, layering farmsteads. An overview of the Dust Bowl article stated, “…crops literally blew away in ‘black blizzards’ as years of poor farming practices and over-cultivation combined with the lack of rain.
By 1934, 75% of the United States was severely affected by this terrible drought. ” (Dust Bowl Migration). The economic impact was devastating and ended the age of independent farming literally. Families who were in the midst of starvation due to the drought throughout the Great Plains and Great Depression were forced to relocate to other regions of the country. Due to the expense of restoring the farmland after the drought, farms that were small were deemed too economically impossible to maintain. Unable to maintain their land, many residents of the Great Plains were forced to “ride rails”.
Many of the residents that were evicted from their farms heard about work hundreds of miles away from where they currently resided. Often times the only way to get to their destinations was by hopping on freight trains illegally. It was estimated that over two million men along with 8. 000 women became hoboes. In one year around 6,500 hoboes were murdered by railroad accidents or by brutal guards that were hired to ensure that the train’s riders were paying customers. The Dust Bowl also increased the scarcity of basic resources such as food.
Hoboes often pleaded and begged for food at local farmhouses. If the owner of the farmhouse was generous often times the hoboes would leave a mark of the lane so that they could come back later to beg. Walter Ballard, a young man whose family was affected greatly by the Great Depression remembers it getting so bad that his family didn’t have enough to eat. He said that he had no choice but to become a rail rider. Surprisingly, he enjoyed the experience, “’There was so many people on it, it looked like blackbirds,’” Walter said. ’Believe it or not, when we got ready to go that old brakeman hollered, ‘All aboard! ‘ just like it was a passenger train. Then we felt at ease. ’” – “’I loved it,’” he said. “’It’ll get in your blood. You’re not agoing anywhere, you don’t care, you just ride. It’s paid for. You’re going to eat, that was more than you was doing at home, probably. ’” (Riding the Rails during the Great Depression). Along with rail riders the American economy began to worsen and government interventions were placed into action in an attempt to restore it.
As a result of President Roosevelt’s advisors believing that the economic depression had been caused by an economic slowdown in farming, a great deal of programs were created to benefit the farmers. Within a few days of his inauguration which took place in 1933, Roosevelt gathered Congress into a meeting to introduce fifteen key pieces of legislation. Among these legislations, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was one of the first. The Agricultural Adjustment Act controlled the supply of the seven most common crops.
These crops include corn, cotton, rice, we=heat, peanuts, milk and tobacco. Farmers were offered money in return for suspension of planting crops. Farmer LeRoy Hankel inquires that there were quite a few farmers who refused to accept the payments of the government, “’There’s a few that said, ‘The government isn’t going to tell me what to do’ There was a few of them. Now, I don’t think there was too many. Most farmers couldn’t afford not to take the government’s payments. ’” (AAA, the Agricultural Adjustment Act & Administration).
Although the AAA did not end the Depression and drought, farmers and critics exclaimed that it revived hope in farming communities, and many sought out to other regions of the United States in hopes of finding work. The Dust Bowl affected many people residing in the Great Plains. Thousands of farmers packed up their families and ventured to California where they hoped to find work. California’s mild climate allowed it to have a longer growing season as well as a surplus of different crops. This seemed like an ideal place for farmers to relocate. Once they arrived in California they were met with harsh words and strict guidelines.
Rarely did they ever find work, and if they did the wages were extremely low. California was becoming overcrowded and it turned away it’s newcomers. Unable to find somewhere to live, many migrant workers slept at Hoovervilles. There they found themselves facing starvation and high risks of contracting diseases. Not only did the Dust Bowl leave many Americans financially unstable, it also made them physically and emotionally unstable. The government spent millions of dollars in an attempt to restore the economy and revamp the lifestyle that Americans were being forced to live through.
The conclusion of the research paper is the most valuable single part of it. All the material you have gathered means nothing to your reader until you present the conclusion you have reached as a result of your research. Restate your thesis and show what the material you have presented adds up to. Analyze and evaluate your main points for your reader; also consider the consequences and general implications of them to your conclusion. Although no actual new information is usually introduced in the concluding paragraphs, the conclusion is the only “original” contribution you offer in your paper.
It manifests the value of your research as well as your understanding of the material that you have presented. It should be a strong recapitulation of your major ideas. Good luck with your research paper! “A Critical Evaluation of the Dust Bowl and Its Causes. ” SAO/NASA ADS: ADS Home Page. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <http://adsabs. harvard. edu/abs/2006AGUFM. A44C.. 06G>. “About The Dust Bowl. ” Welcome to English « Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <http://www. english. illinois. edu/maps/depression/dustbowl. htm>. “Dust Bowl Migration. ” Calisphere -. Web. 28 Apr. 012. <http://www. calisphere. universityofcalifornia. edu/themed_collections/subtopic4a. html>. “The Dust Bowl of the 1930s. ” Wessels Living History Farm, Inc. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www. livinghistoryfarm. org/farminginthe30s/water_02. html>. “Riding the Rails during the Great Depression. ” Wessels Living History Farm, Inc. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www. livinghistoryfarm. org/farminginthe30s/water_07. html>. “AAA, the Agricultural Adjustment Act & Administration. ” Wessels Living History Farm, Inc. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://www. livinghistoryfarm. org/farminginthe30s/water_11. html>.