is no doubt the Crash of 1929 and the extreme drought of the 1930s contributed
to The Great Depression and Dust Bowl. Bad luck just seemed to come in bunches
to those who lived in that era. However, closer study reveals the beleaguered
people caught up in this strife and disaster were caught up in another monumental
change as well, the end of the horsepower era and the beginning of the gasoline-power
era. Compare the 1930 census to the 1940 census for proof.
in American history had such a drastic change presented itself. In order to properly
farm 160 to 320 acres with horsepower, owners worked with up to three teams and
equipment. In addition, from 20 to 40 percent of the acreage had to be dedicated
to raising grain and forage for the teams of livestock doing the work. Most of
these owners and employees lived on the land where they worked and raised gardens
When tractors came on the market, almost overnight the same
acreage could be worked by the owner with no land set aside for the upkeep of
the horsepower stock. No matter the loyalty or obligations owed, when hard times
and drought struck, landowners had no alternative but to change with the times.
Thousands of rural workers suddenly found themselves out of work.
hardship was not caused by the stock market crash of 1929. Few if any of this
societal class owned any stock or had any investments to be lost. Bank closings
did not affect many, as few had bank accounts. The blowing dust had little real
effect on them because few had any investment in failed crops. When they lost
their jobs they had no choice but to flee to a better place.
In no way
do I belittle these people, as they had been the backbone of American agriculture
for ages. They were merely victims of the great change from horses to tractors.
If depression and drought had not been present, adding to their woes, a less severe
outcome might have occurred.
is hard to distinguish between the heroes and villains as hard choices were made
in this dramatic change in progress. Some argue those who stayed were tougher
and more determined than those who left. Others merely shook their heads and said
they were too poor to leave even if they wanted.
Whatever category or
circumstances the people found themselves in, it was a tough hard time caused
by change. Such changes will always be in the future and is the normal way the
world seems to work. Be aware and always be ready to change.
Trew - August
9, 2011 column
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at trewblue@centra media.net.
For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.