The Dust Bowl And Its Role In The Great Depression

For years, American farmers overplanted and poorly managed their crop rotations, and between 1930 and 1936, when severe drought conditions prevailed across much of America’s Plains, Dust Bowls were created. Soil turned to dust and large dark clouds could be seen across the horizon in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico. Topsoil was carried by the ton from barren fields, across hundreds of miles of Plains in the driest regions of the country.

Click here to read facts about the Dust Bowl, migration during the Dust Bowl, hobos, and FDR New Deal programs that were designed to address the Dust Bowl conditions.


Black Sunday, April 14, 1935, a day when winds reached top speeds of 60 miles per hour, prompted an AP reporter to coin the term “dust bowl” for the first time.

The agricultural depression was a major factor in the Great Depression, as bank loans went bad, credit dried up, and banks closed across the country.

Throughout the 1930s, more than a million acres of land were affected in the Dust Bowl, thousands of farmers lost their livelihoods and property, and mass migration patterns began to emerge as farmers left rural America in search of work in urban areas. This migration added to Great Depression unemployment woes, stressed relief and benefits programs, and created social strife in many large American cities.