1930s Dust Bowl

The devastation of the Great Plains during the 1930's

Throughout the 1930's, the Great Plains states of the U.S. (mainly Texas & Oklahoma, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas) as well as Canada experienced an historically unprecedented dust bowl. It was created by poor farming methods that essentially stripped the top layer of soil. This forced tens of thousands of people to abandon their farms, many of them moving to California. These are the pictures of their lands and times.

Throughout the 1930's, the Great Plains states of the U.S. (mainly Texas & Oklahoma, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas) as well as Canada experienced an historically unprecedented dust bowl. It was created by poor farming methods that essentially stripped the top layer of soil. This forced tens of thousands of people to abandon their farms, many of them moving to California. These are the pictures of their lands and times.

A photo of a massive dust storm moving into Elkhard, Kansas.
Added Dec 29, 2011 by: Ancient Faces
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It may look like snow but this is dust: Severe wind erosion made this farm uninhabitable. Cimarron County, Oklahoma April 1936.
Added Dec 29, 2011 by: Ancient Faces
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Autos have to turn on lights to penetrate gloom of a dust storm. Amarillo, Texas
Added Dec 29, 2011 by: Ancient Faces
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Refugees from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl arrive in San Fernando, California. This (unnamed family) photo was taken in June of 1935 by Dorothea Lange, who documented many affects of the Dust Bowl on the farmers. The caption says: "More Oklahomans reach Calif. via the cotton fields of Ariz." The family seems to be carrying all of their possessions in their car and there is a box on the front bumper labeled "Scotch Soap'.
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
A dust storm in Colorado circa 1936.
Added Dec 29, 2011 by: Ancient Faces
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A refugee from the Oklahoma drought, living in a "ditch bank camp" in the Imperial Valley, California. She looks so nice - it must have been difficult to keep everything neat and clean. Her name is unknown. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, photographer Dorothea Lange
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Added Aug 8, 2011 by: Kathy Pinna
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This is a photo of Home of a dust bowl refugee in California. Imperial County added by Ancient Faces on January 5, 2012.
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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A photo of unnamed west Texas farmers visiting the nearest town (also not identified) during the Dust Bowl in June of 1937. This photo was taken by Dorothea Lange who traveled the United States, documenting the Dust Bowl and the Depression for the Farm Security Administration. Interesting note: Today, businesses don't want people "loitering" outside. In the 1930's, businesses supplied benches for people to sit and visit!
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Drought and depression refugee from Oklahoma now working in the pea fields of California. Imperial Valley
Added Dec 29, 2011 by: Ancient Faces
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Drought refugees from Oklahoma looking for work in the pea fields of California, near Mission San Jose. Names of people in photo unknown. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, photographer Dorothea Lange
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Added Aug 10, 2011 by: Kathy Pinna
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Kathy Pinna
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An ex-tenant farmer (the name of the man is unknown) who was on a relief grant in the Imperial Valley, California. Since this was after the Dust Bowl, he was probably on relief because his farm was gone. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, photographer Dorothea Lange
Added Aug 8, 2011 by: Kathy Pinna
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Kathy Pinna
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A family of Oklahoma migratory workers, who were washing in a hot spring in the desert of the Imperial Valley in California. After the Dust Bowl, many families from Oklahoma migrated to California, looking for work and better living conditions. It doesn't look much better for them, yet. The names of these people are unknown. Photo courtesy the Library of Congress, photographer Dorothea Lange
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Added Aug 8, 2011 by: Kathy Pinna
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Drifting soil covering chicken house and grove, S. Dak.
Added Jan 10, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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Over this bridge drought refugees are crossing the Colorado River into California. U.S. 80 / Dorothea Lange, 1935.
Added Jan 9, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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A new Dust Bowl program for the Southwest was created in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1937. This photo shows Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace appointing Roy I. Kimmel, of Amarillo, Texas to coordinate a broad federal program to rehabilitate the soil, conserve the soil, resettle farmers, and create a AAA wind erosion program in 100 counties (comprising 140,000 sq miles) in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Roy Kimbel had been in charge of the RA Rehabilitation Program (the Resettlement Administration created in 1935) in the southwest and his original appointment was effective for an indefinite term. Shown left to right in the picture are; Wallace, Kimmel, and Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Milburn Lincoln "M.L." Wilson.
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Dust bowl farmer with tractor and young son near Cland, New Mexico
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of Dust bowl farmer driving tractor with young son near... added by Ancient Faces on January 5, 2012.
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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Dust bowl farmer driving tractor with young son, near Cland, New Mexico.
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of Leveling hummocks in dust bowl, thirty miles north of... added by Ancient Faces on January 5, 2012.
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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A farm in Dalhart Texas in 1938. The farm was affected by the Dust Bowl but remained occupied, at least in 1938. Others in the same area were abandoned. The owners were hardy people to remain on that land! The photo was taken by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration.
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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A photo of an abandoned farm during the Dust Bowl in the Coldwater District, near Dalhart, Texas in June of 1938. The photo was taken by Dorothea Lange, who documented the Dust Bowl for the Farm Security Administration.
People in this photo:
Biography
Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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Mailbox in Dust Bowl. Coldwater District, north of Dalhart, Texas
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
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This is a photo of Sand drift along fence. Dust Bowl, north of Dalhart, Texas added by Ancient Faces on January 5, 2012.
Added Jan 5, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Member since 2002
Ancient Faces
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The Dirty Thirties - The Dust Bowl
From 1934 through 1940, the Great Plains of the United States and Canada were devastated by dust storms, causing great eco...
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