During the Great Depression, the stock market and economic crisis were not the only problems causing suffering among Americans. Mother Nature's horrible timing hit various parts of the country in different ways during the 1930s. In the south, the cotton crop was destroyed by boll weevil, which is a type of beetle that feeds on cotton. However, in the western states, something even worse was taking place: the Dust Bowl.

220px-Dust-storm-Texas-1935.png
A dust storm in Texas, 1935.

The Dust Bowl was not only a natural disaster, but a human tragedy; it was not an accident. When Americans first began to farm the Great Plains, they found it was a hard environment to keep moisture and vegetation plentiful. Sods, which are tough grass roots, were grown and covered the land to keep farming an easier task. In the late 1800s, however, cattle were allowed to overgraze on the sod, destroying it completely in some areas. Following this came World War I, meaning farmers had to grow an abundance of wheat for soldiers. New gasoline tractors were invented during this time period, allowing farmers to plow huge sections of land, which had never been done before. The prairie's protectant was now gone due to such harsh treatment, so when a drought and heat wave swept across the plains starting in 1930, soil literally blew away. Winds were so bad that the soil piled up and looked like snow in the winter.

During the 1920s, farmers produced an abundance of crops, so much that the United States was not eating everything they produced. For example, one county in Kansas could harvest 3.4 million bushel of wheat, but after the Dust Bowl, only 89,000 could be produced. IN just Colorado, 2,811 homes were left abandoned and 1,522 simply disappeared; no one knows if they moved or perished from the scheme of things. Since everyone who lived in the Great Plains made a living farming, and that was no longer possible, a mass exodus of farmers moved mainly west to find easy work. (Farmers were still in debt because of the 1920s, just like city folk). By 1939, a million of those who inhabited the region had left to find work in California. Not only were these Americans without money or hope like most of the population- they had lost their homeland due to past mistakes.

dust_bowl.jpg
These are the states affected by the Dust Bowl, the brown shows where most storms occurred.