Most of the images that we associate with the Great Depression come directly from John Steinbeck: displaced families tying all their
belongings onto the sides of their cars, following the western trail to the fertile lands of California. The Grapes of Wrath correctly
illustrated what happened to many Red River families - they were displaced by the simple yet efficient tractor.

Farm mechanization meant that those who had access to a tractor could get their goods to market quicker.  It also meant that to be
profitable in a world of agricultural glut (the global market faced as much overproduction as the U.S. market), more land had to be farmed.
While in the eastern Red River Valley, cotton was still king, the prevailing economic system of the South - sharecropping - proved
unsustainable next to more cost efficient tractors. In the western Red River valley, where drought had a devastating effect, banks
foreclosed on the land and sold large tracts to commercial farming operations.

Thousands of farmers, workers, and sharecroppers left the Red River Valley to head west, trying to find work in the California vegetable
fields. They faced horrible hardships, from unjust labor practices to outright starvation. Suddenly, the occupation that once was able to
sustain entire families couldn't even feed one person. Along with the dust, the family farm went up in the sky. That must have been the
hardest irony of all.
Abandoned house in a dusty field, Oklaunion, Texas.
The Dust Bowl - End of an Era
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
Dorothea Lange documented the Texas town of Carey (Childress County) during the Dust Bowl for the Farm Security Administration.
Today, Carey is a ghost town.