South Dakota History April 24, 2019
by Annie These 9 Never-Before-Seen Photos Of The Dust Bowl In South Dakota Will Shake You To Your Core
While South Dakota has seen its fair share of hardship and tragedy since entering the Union in 1889, one of the most difficult times in state history may have taken place during the 1930s, when water was scarce and the land (and its people) suffered for it. That time was, of course, the Dust Bowl, which can be seen here via these nine stunning photos:
Spanning from 1934 to approximately 1940, the drought leading to the thirsty lands came in 3 different spurts (1934, 1936, and 1939).
This photo from 1936 shows an overgrazed pasture that is no longer suitable for livestock.
Because of a dire lack of water, South Dakota farmland was deemed useless, as it was merely dust that blew around from high winds.
With the Great Depression already in progress, the Dust Bowl was an added blow to the economy of the western states, as the drought is said to have covered a whopping 100 million acres of land.
By the end of 1938, more than 850 million tons of topsoil had been taken by the wind, making it even more difficult for farmers to rebuild and replenish their land.
South Dakota is used to blizzards, but not ones consisting of black-out dusts, which is exactly what happened multiple times throughout the decade.
By the end of 1935, more than 500,000 Americans were deemed homeless, causing the largest migration in American history.
Within the 10 years of the Dust Bowl, an estimated 3.5 million relocated to the east and west.
While 50,000 South Dakotans leaving the state may seem like a huge number, it does not begin to compare to the number of those who fled southern states like Oklahoma and Texas.
Though there is still no concrete cause for the Dust Bowl, it is speculated that it was created by not only the drought, but also by wheat and other non-native crops that were being introduced to the land.
Fortunately, the rains began to return in 1941, which slowly replenished the land, economy, and overall quality of life in America.
While South Dakota has experienced other droughts since, none of them have compared to the devastation of this time in American history. To discover even more SoDak history, check out these
12 Then And Now Photos In South Dakota That Show Just How Much It Has Changed.
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