Cedar Valley Realtor

Dust Bowl Era

During the height of the Great Depression, drought and poor agricultural practices led to the Dust Bowl, when massive dust storms blew away the soil from large tracts of arable land and deposited it on nearby farms and ranches, distant states, the Atlantic Ocean, and even occasionally Great Britain. The resulting crop failures forced many small farmers to flee the state altogether. Although the most persistent dust storms primarily affected the Panhandle, much of the state experienced occasional dusters, intermittent severe drought, and occasional searing heat. Towns such as Alva, Altus, and Poteau each recorded temperatures of 120 °F (49 °C) during the epic summer of 1936.

Advances in agro-mechanical technology simultaneously enabled less labor-intensive crop production. Many large landowners and planters had more labor than they needed with the new technology, and the federal Agricultural Adjustment Act paid them to reduce production. Plantation owners throughout the American South and much of eastern and southern Oklahoma released their sharecroppers of their debts and evicted them. With few or no local opportunities available for them, many emancipated, but destitute blacks and whites fled to the relative prosperity of California to work as migrant farm workers and, after the onset of World War II, in factories. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, photographs by Dorothea Lange, and songs of Woody Guthrie tales of woe from the era. The negative images of the "Okie" as a sort of rootless migrant laborer living in a near-animal state of scrounging for food greatly offended many Oklahomans. These works often mix the experiences of former sharecroppers of the western American South with those of the exodusters fleeing the fierce dust storms of the High Plains. Although hey primarily feature the extremely destitute, the vast majority of the people, both staying in and fleeing from Oklahoma, suffered great poverty in the Depression years. Some Oklahoma politicians denounced The Grapes of Wrath (often without reading it) as an attempt to impugn the morals and character of Oklahomans. The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in 1930 and lasted until the late 1930s or middle 1940s.[1] It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century.[2] In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how far the world's economy can decline.[2] The depression originated in the U.S., after the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%.[3] Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60%.[4][5][6] Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as cash cropping, mining and logging suffered the most.[7] Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. In many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the end of World War II.