In 1931 the rains stopped and the “black blizzards” began. Powerful dust storms carrying millions of tons of stinging, blinding black dirt swept across the Southern Plains—the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, western Kansas, and the eastern portions of Colorado and New Mexico. Topsoil that had taken a thousand years per inch to build suddenly blew away in only minutes. One journalist traveling through the devastated region dubbed it the “Dust Bowl."
LIFE: Dust Bowl survivors
Caption from LIFE. "Oklahoma farmer John Barnett's daughter Delphaline, 17, wears bright-colored slacks around the farm. She and her two brothers go to a rural school where there are only four other pupils. Next fall Delphaline will enter high school." Oklahoma, 1942. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Farming Family from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, so much personality and grit on each face, tough life.
BLACK SUNDAY - April 14, 1935 - The rains didn't return until 4 years later. When the dust settled in April 1935, scenes like this were repeated throughout the high plains region. Crops were ruined. Farms produced nothing. Livestock died en masse. People abandoned their homes in droves, with little more than the clothes on their back to show for many years of hard work building their homesteads. There was nothing of value to sell, no one to sell to.
“Watching a Dust Storm’s Approach,” as a black blizzard rolls in to Ulysses, Kansas, two women and a girl pose for a photograph before taking shelter.
"Fleeing a dust storm". Farmer Arthur Coble and sons walking in the face of a dust storm, Cimmaron County, Oklahoma. Arthur Rothstein, photographer, April, 1936.