The 1930’s were a time of great depression, extreme drought and dirt storms. The region of Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle, Texas and the Eastern parts of Colorado and New Mexico were referred to as the “Dust Bowl.” The settlers of this area faced a tough, harsh climate with adverse temperatures, high winds and a flat landscape. Increased production of farmland cut the soil more thoroughly, making it drier and more vulnerable. The drought started and the winds began to blow, dust storms began and drifts of dirt soon developed. Much of the wheat crop was ruined and the “Dirty Thirties” took its toll on the people of the area. Dust clouds rolled in and dumped fine silt over the land causing many struggles to keep most of it out of houses, schools and businesses. Cloth wedged in every crack and makeshift masks could stop the devastation and health problems. The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s might have been one of the worst experiences in Kansas, however it did truly test the spirit, strength, and fortitude for those who chose to stay. The vast majority did not leave, and when the drought ended, farmers began new farming methods and techniques of soil conservation. The plains of America have since become very productive farmland. Recent dust storms and drought have many wondering, could it happen again?


Smoky Hills Public Television produced a documentary titled, “Stories from The Dust Bowl.” Through the use of old photographs, music, film and interviews with those who lived through this time period, Smoky Hills Public Television presents a special program that tells the story of this critical time in history. It is important to capture the recollections and stories from the past to learn of the hardships of those who survived and continued to make a life and home in Kansas and the plains. There are many stories to be told; however many of those will soon be gone.

Visits included Hugoton, Liberal, Great Bend, Hays and Garden City, Kansas and Goodwell, Oklahoma as well as interviews with men and women from across our viewing area. The Wind Erosion Research Unit of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service at Kansas State University has done extensive research on the subject and history consultants from Fort Hays State University, University of Kansas, Barton County Community College and Oklahoma Panhandle State University were interviewed.

“This Program is funded in part by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.”


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"Stories From The Dust Bowl"
with Bonus Material

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