Imagine being blinded by dirt and disoriented by wind. Imagine having to cover your faces whenever you left the house and having to cover your food whenever you ate. Well, welcome to the Dust Bowl. During the 1880s, farmers fled to the Southern Great Plans after hearing word that it was great for planting wheat. However there was an awful drought in the 1890s, which caused some farmers to leave. Most stayed, though, because those who stayed for three years got 320 acres of land. Farmers were having great success with their wheat up until the 1930s.
During the 1930s, drought killed all of the wheat, and farmers and their families were struck with horrible dust storms. These were awful and depressing times for farmers. People died of dust pneumonia, people had to cover there faces and windows, and to sum up the Dust Bowl in one word can’t be done because there is no word to describe how awful these storms really were. But what really caused these dust bowls? Well it was a combination of things: destruction of grass, heavy use of machines, and lack of rain. The first cause of the Dust Bowl was all of the destruction of grass.
With so many farmers in the Southern Great Plains, a lot of grass was ripped up and used for farming. As the Texas Sheepherder once noted, “Grass is what counts. It’s what saves us all – far as we get saved…. Grass is what holds the earth together”. That quote pretty much summed up why destruction of grass was such a key point in the dust bowl. That is actually completely literal. The roots of the grass hold the dirt in place, but with so much grass missing, the wind could easily pick up the dirt and that is exactly what happened.
In fact, since the 50 years of farming in the south, the amount of farmland used increased by 95 million acres. Imagine how much dirt that is. The destruction of the prairie grass was a huge factor in causing the Dust Bowl because it made the dirt looser and easier to get caught in the wind. Another key factor was the use of machines, especially the tractor. Farmers could do the work of ten horses with a single tractor. That saved a lot of time and a lot of money. With all of that extra money, farmers could buy more land, which brings us back to the problem with grass.
Plus, a new train in Boise City made it easier for farmers to ship their wheat. The new heavy use of machines helped caused the Dust Bowl because it made farmers want to farm more on more land. The third cause of the Dust Bowl is the lack of rain. The south was experiencing a severe drought. Added to the fact that they weren’t getting the minimum amount of rain recommended for farming in the first place with an average of about 17 inches when the recommended is 20, the drought made conditions unbearable for crops to grow and live, destroying farming careers.
Also, the lack of rain dried out the soil making it much easier to blow in the wind. The lack of rain was a cause of the Dust Bowl because it killed crops and dried out soil. To conclude, the three main causes of the Dust Bowl were the destruction of grass, heavy use of machines, and the lack of rain. The Dust Bowl was a really dark spot in American history. We really don’t want this type of thing to happen again so it is important that we know and understand these causes because the dust bowl definitely could have been prevented.