I stumbled on a mention of something called a dustbowl via a picture on shorpy (see the comments for more pictures) – I didn’t really understand what they were talking about, and some research led me to these articles :
- dustbowl and the great depression (Wikipedia)
- NY Times Review of a book that also mentions the dustbowl
It seems this was a huge man-made ecological disaster in the 1930’s that was caused by (over)plowing the wrong way and not taking care of the soil, leading to soil erosion. All this soil became enormous dust storms that had many people fleeing to the cities.
Fascinating reading about a major ecological disaster.