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The Dust Bowl

Written by: Peter Fishlock : 24 Nov 2019

This rather apocalyptic photo was taken back in the 1930s during America’s drought disaster known as the Dust Bowl. The drought hit the Great Plains states in three waves, 1934, 1936, and 1939 - 1940. It caused devastation with high winds sweeping choking dust clouds from Texas to Nebraska, killing people and livestock and causing crops to fail across the region. The term Dust Bowl was coined by Associated Press reporter Robert Geiger on April 15th, 1935. The disaster America was experiencing was both manmade and natural. WWI had created a huge demand for wheat and harvests had boomed, but when the Great Depression hit in the early 1930s, the wheat market collapsed.

The Dust Bowl, America’s drought disaster back in the 1930s

The Dust Bowl, America’s drought disaster back in the 1930s

Land that prior to being farmed, had been covered with prairie grass that held the topsoil into place, was now dried up, and defenceless against the winds that buffeted the Plains, causing a huge amount of erosion. The dust clouds caused coughing spasms, shortness of breath, asthma, bronchitis and even signs of silicosis from inhaling extremely fine silt particulates, which had high silica content. The disaster brought huge changes to America causing roughly 2.5 million people to flee the devastation and seek a better life.

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