Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Dust Bowl

Synopsis

The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American prairie lands from 1930 to 1936. The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming.

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

It’s like a bad joke, from Texas to Dakota
On top of this horrid, endless Depression
A drought of all droughts
Our topsoil dried out
Blowing in black blizzards
Whipping round and round
Burying our farms

In the wind it blows and blows
In the wind it blows and blows
Here in this Dust Bowl

From Oklahoma, I’m called an Okie
I watched a third of my farm blow away
Far too many days
Our cows over grazed
No grass left to hold in the soil
Then the drought, then the wind
We cough and itch and squint

In the wind it blows and blows
In the wind it blows and blows
Here in this Dust Bowl

And so we all must leave, us Okies and Arkies
Must pack what we got high up on our cars
All we have left
We will take west
Any jobs for us migrant Americans
Picking fruit till our hands bleed
So many hungry mouths to feed

In the wind it blows and blows
In the wind it blows and blows
Here in this Dust Bowl

And Cali didn’t want us, nor Washington or Oregon
Always told to ‘keep moving on’
And then when they want us, they don’t pay us but pennies
And the locals yell at us to just go home
But our home is just a big Dust Bowl!

It’s like a bad joke, from Texas to Dakota
On top of this horrid, and endless Depression
A drought of all droughts
Our topsoil dried out
Blowing in black blizzards
Whipping round and round (and round and round)
Burying our farms (burying our farms)

In the wind it blows and blows
In the wind it blows and blows
Here in this Dust Bowl

Vocabulary

Dust Bowl— The Dust Bowl drought was a natural disaster of drought and high winds that severely affected much of the United States during the 1930s.

Depression— The Great Depression was a severe economic downturn in the decade preceding World War II.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

What was the Dust Bowl? Where and when did it occur?

Tier 2 Questions

A spike in the demand for wheat during World War I led farmers to increase their crop output without rotation. How do you think this related the Dust Bowl a decade later?

Tier 3 Questions

What other natural disasters in the past century have been as devastating to a portion of the United States as the Dust Bowl was?

Test Prep Questions

1) Which geographic area is most closely associated with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s?

  • (1) Great Lakes basin
  • (2) Mississippi River valley
  • (3) Appalachian Mountains
  • (4) Great Plains

2) One way in which the Gold Rush in 1849 and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s are similar is that both resulted in

  • (1) a war with other countries
  • (2) the sale of cheap federal land
  • (3) an increase in westward migration
  • (4) the removal of Native American Indians to reservations

3) The term Dust Bowl is most closely associated with which historical circumstance?

  • (1) a major drought that occurred during the 1930s
  • (2) logging practices in the Pacific Northwest in the 1950s
  • (3) an increase in pollution during the 1960s
  • (4) the migration to the Sun Belt in the 1970s

4) What were two basic causes of the Dust Bowl during the early 1930s?

  • (1) strip mining and toxic waste dumping
  • (2) overfarming and severe drought
  • (3) clear-cutting of forests and construction of railroads
  • (4) overpopulation and urban sprawl

5) The Dust Bowl experiences of the Oklahoma farmers during the Great Depression demonstrated the

  • (1) effect of geography on people’s lives
  • (2) success of government farm subsidies
  • (3) limitation of civil liberties during times of crisis
  • (4) result of the Indian Removal Act

6) In the 1930s, one factor that accounted for the westward migration of farmers from the Great Plains was

  • (1) high farm prices
  • (2) new technologies
  • (3) the Dust Bowl
  • (4) the baby boom

7) The “dust bowls” described by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath had the greatest impact on

  • (1) residents of urban slums
  • (2) workers in factory sweatshops
  • (3) plantation owners in the rural south
  • (4) farmers on the Great Plain