Throughout most of the 1930s and into the early 1940s, the Dust Bowl turned much of what's now known as the American heartland into a virtual wasteland. Dust Bowl refugees camp along the highway near Bakersfield, California, November 1935. Nevertheless, the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt stepped in with a myriad of aid programs whose efforts ranged from planting trees to block wind and hold soil to distributing food to the hungry to teaching farmers dryland techniques to prevent an episode like this from ever happening again. John Kuroski is the Managing Editor of All That Is Interesting. The children of a migrant family living in a trailer in the middle of a field south of Chandler, Arizona, November 1940. A migrant mother from Missouri tends to her sick child after experiencing car trouble on U.S. Highway 99 near Tracy, California, February 1937. The "Black Sunday" dust storm approaches Spearman, Texas on April 14, 1935. . Ben Shahn/Farm Security Administration via New York Public Library. A drought refugee from Oklahoma attempts to prepare dinner in her makeshift outdoor dwelling in Marysville, California, August 1935. Drought plagued the Mid-West from 1934 to 1940. Dorothea Lange/Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress. The threatening storm rose above a farm near Hartman, Colo. Once range land, it was almost ruined by wheat farming. A Colorado farming family during the 1954 Dust Bowl. United States Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons. In order to plant crops, farmers removed the deep-rooted grasses which kept the soil moist during periods of little rain and high wind. A mother and child at the El Monte Federal Subsistence Homesteads in California, 1936. Against the dusty tide these feeble efforts came too little and too late. A destitute family in the Ozark Mountains area of Arkansas, 1935. An abandoned farm house in southwest Oklahoma, June 1937. Landscape left barren by the Dust Bowl, north of Dalhart, Texas, June 1938. An irrigation ditch near Amity was cleared of dust, which filled it for 20 miles to depth of six feet. However, during the 1920s, farmers of the Great Plains had plowed away much of this grass in order to make room for crops, thus making this land even more sensitive to both drought and windstorms. And thus it's entirely fitting that it caused a tremendous exodus. An abandoned farm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936. And if any group should summon such a stare, it's those who lived through the Dust Bowl, the worst manmade ecological disaster in American history. Click here to request Getty Images Premium Access through IBM Creative Design Services. A protective pattern was spread across a farm near Walsh, Colo. by farmer using two tractors (upper right). A Colorado farming family during the 1954 Dust Bowl. The Getty Images design is a trademark of Getty Images. Arthur Rothstein/Farm security Administration via Library of Congress. {{collectionsDisplayName(searchView.appliedFilters)}}, {{searchText.groupByEventToggleImages()}}, {{searchText.groupByEventToggleEvents()}}. Two decades after the nation’s worst drought year in history, 1934, the southern plains were again officially labeled by the U.S. government with two familiar words “Dust Bowl.”. Your team's Premium Access agreement is expiring soon. A farmer and his sons walk amid a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936. "This is a hard way to serve the Lord": An Oklahoma refugee in California, March 1937. Tenant farmers in Imperial Valley, California, March 1937. A child plays in a California migratory camp, 1936. Members of a poor family of nine who'd been living in a makeshift dwelling constructed from an abandoned car and using a nearby creek as their only water source along U.S. Route 70 between Bruceton and Camden, Tennessee, March 1936. Too many images selected. A dust storm rages at an unspecified location, circa 1930s. Veteran migrant worker camped in Wagoner County, Oklahoma, June 1939. Select from premium Dust Bowl of the highest quality. Thankfully, in the decades since, nothing quite like it ever has. Margaret Bourke-White/Life Pictures/Getty Images. driving a plow six inches into the soil to turn up clots of dirt which might help hold the precious land from the vicious winds. An abandoned house on the edge of the Great Plains near Hollis, Oklahoma, June 1938. Today, we're left with the photographs of Dorothea Lange and a few others to provide an up-close look at this one-of-a-kind American tragedy. When asked where his home was, he told photographer Russell Lee, "It's all over. © 2020 Getty Images. Arthur Rothstein/Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress. The Dust Bowl was a series severe dust storms that affected 100,000,000 acres of the American prairie caused by drought and poor farming techniques. Farm machinery buried by a dust storm near a barn lot in Dallas, South Dakota, May 1936. Children of a tenant farmer in Boone County, Arkansas, 1935. Dust storm damage in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936. Dust bowl refugee from Chickasaw, Oklahoma, now in Imperial Valley, California, March 1937. The IBM strategic repository for digital assets such as images and videos is located at dam.ibm.com. A woman in a pea picker's camp in California, March 1937. Dorothea Lange/Farm security Administration via Library of Congress. Poor 24-year-old father and 17-year-old mother attempt to hitchhike with their baby on California's U.S. Highway 99, November 1936. Arthur Rothstein/Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons. The land turned desolate and the sky went dark as "black blizzards" (dust storms) flared up day in and day out. The phenomenon known as Dust Bowl was a horror of the middle part of the last century, and the result of a destructive mix of brutal weather and uninformed agricultural practices that left farmland vulnerable. Carl Mydans/Farm Security Administration via New York Public Library. And as you look through other Dust Bowl pictures, you'll see that stare again and again. ", Russell Lee/Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress. A migrant farmer and his child in California, 1936. Margaret Bourke-White/Life Pictures/Getty Images The antidust measure of furrowing land, taken by a conservation-minded farmer in Baca County, went for naught when a neighbor’s unfurrowed land blew across his farm, killing a crop of winter wheat. The "Black Sunday" dust storm, one of the worst of the entire era, hits Liberal, Kansas on April 14, 1935. See some of those who lived through it, their thousand-yard stares, and the ghostly landscapes they traveled through in the Dust Bowl pictures above. A dust storm near Beaver, Oklahoma, July 1935. Across Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, the darkening swirls of loosened topsoil chewed their way across the plains, destroying or damaging 16 million acres of land. This repository is populated with tens of thousands of assets and should be your first stop for asset selection. And when both of those struck in the mid-1930s, the region's fate was sealed. You've likely seen it in Dorothea Lange's iconic photo of a California migrant mother (see slide three above). 27 Astounding Images From Spain's Centuries-Old Baby Jumping Festival, 17 Pictures Of When Seattle Grunge Took Over The World, What Stephen Hawking Thinks Threatens Humankind The Most, 27 Raw Images Of When Punk Ruled New York, Join The All That's Interesting Weekly Dispatch. A farm house was damaged by a dust storm, Colorado, 1954. A woman identified as Mrs. Howard holds her baby at a migrant camp in California, 1935. Dust is too much for this farmer's son in Cimarron County, Oklahoma. At the Midway Dairy cooperative, near Santa Ana, California, 1936. Here, LIFE.com looks back, through the lens of the great Margaret Bourke-White, at a period when as LIFE phrased it in a May 1954 issue there was a “Dusty Plague Upon the Land.”, The delicate, lethal powder spread in a brown mist across the prairie horizon. Dorothea Lange/Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons. National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons. Children from Oklahoma staying in a migratory camp in California, November 1936. The young son of a farmer walks amid the dust in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, April 1936. ‘Plague Upon the Land’: Scenes From an American Dust Bowl, 1954. It's an ineffable look at once vacant and intent, stoic and poignant, broken and resolved -- the quintessential thousand-yard stare. Coloradans Art Blooding and his family inspected their newly bought farm in 50-mph wind. And if you liked this post, be sure to check out these popular posts: You'll recognize the stare. A migrant fruit farmer and his family rest at a camp in Marysville, California, June 1935. After viewing these Dust Bowl pictures, have a look at 24 Great Depression photos that reveal the trauma experienced across America in the 1930s. A young migratory mother originally from Texas, now in Edison, California, April 1940. It was something like a biblical plague. Wild ducks that had choked to death on the dust made a graveyard of what was at one time a watering stop on their spring migrations. Shame on humanity that made fun and or took advantage of them as they struggled to find work, food and shelter. Dust Bowl farm in the Coldwater District, north of Dalhart, Texas, June 1938. Find the perfect Dust Bowl stock photos and editorial news pictures from Getty Images. Between 1930 and 1940, approximately 3.5 million desperately poor Americans abandoned their now barren farms in the Plains states and headed for greener pastures, largely in California. Felled broomcorn lay near Walsh, once ‘Broomcorn Capital of U.S.’. These pictures don’t follow “Okies” as they leave their world behind.

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