Grading Service: NGC
SKU: 139390
Cert Number: 5748572001

The 1930s was not an easy time for Americans after the stock market crashed in 1929 and started the Great Depression. This already difficult time would turn out even more difficult for people in the mid-west and Great Plains areas as a devastating drought combated what little hope they had left. Since World War I, the Great Plains farmers pumped out wheat as fast as they could to keep up with demand which essentially stripped the top soil of nutrients. Furthermore, inventions like the tractor streamlined the plowing process and made farmers even more eager to reap the benefits. With quick overturn and poor practices the once fruitful fields turned into a barren wasteland. The severe drought of 1931 would only worsen conditions for the already stripped top soil and feeble crops. Soon the inescapable wind stirred up dust and created significantly more dust storms as years progressed; from fourteen in 1932 to twenty-eight in 1933. By 1934 the frequency had decreased but the combination of severely deficient soil and incredibly high winds made for the worst dust storm that had hit the area. This single 1934 storm managed to displace 350 tons of silt and carried it across the U.S. to the Eastern Seaboard. As reported by the New York Times’ “[dust] lodged itself in the eyes and throats of weeping, coughing New Yorkers.” It is even said that boats almost three hundred miles off the coast found traces of Great Plains dust on their decks. As a result several families had to relocate to California from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, and New Mexico to avoid the life-threatening dust. Regardless of their origins, these immigrants received the somewhat derogatory nickname “Okies” that labeled them as poor homeless roughnecks. Even after their move many of these families found conditions to be only slightly better if not the same as what they left behind- minus the dust- since there were few jobs and little land. While the 1934 storm managed to displace, kill, and inconvenience thousands, it wasn’t until the second worse storm in 1935 that the situation drew national attention. Soon the aid of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal policy stepped in to assist in better farming practices that could potentially provide relief to the plains. Thankfully the federal regulation and new techniques did aid in suppressing the dust approximately 65%, but true relief would not be achieved until the end of the drought in 1939.

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