Dust Bowl Facts ~ Great Depression

Here are some interesting facts about the Dust Bowl:

•In 1932, there were 14 dust storms recorded on the Plains (an area that included the panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas, southwest Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and Nebraska). In 1933, there were 38 dust storms.

•By 1934, because of years of repeated dust storms, approximately 100 million acres of farmland no longer had enough topsoil to grow crops.

•In April 1935, an Associated Press reporter used the term “dust bowl” to describe the conditions, and the term soon became popular.

•Nebraska – in the heart of “Dust Bowl” country – typically averaged 20 inches of rain per year. In 1934, only 14.5 inches fell, which caused corn yield crops to drop by 75%.

•Poor farming practices contributed to the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. These included: over planting crops and overgrazing, as well as massive plowing under of natural grasses and replacing them with crops that weren’t drought resistant.

•An estimated 2 million people became “hobos” – people who would illegally hop on trains to get to jobs they’d heard about that were hundreds or thousands of miles away from their Dust Bowl farmland.z

•In one year alone during the Great Depression, an estimated 6,500 people were killed as they tried to hop on moving freight trains (either by accident or by guards who were hired by the railroad to prevent people from jumping on trains).

•The New Deal programs initiated during the Great Depression included five major farm laws (AAA, CCC, FSA, SCS, and REA) that were designed to get farmers back on their feet. Many of these programs still exist today.

•During the worst of the Dust Bowl days, students were sometimes sent home to prevent “dust pneumonia.” Other times, they were kept at school overnight, because it was too dangerous to walk home in such harsh conditions and low visibility.