President Roosevelt Visits Dust Bowl North Dakota

The Dust Bowl was a contributing factor in the abandonment of farms and rural towns in North Dakota during the 1930s, a subject we’ve covered before. Western North Dakota was particularly hard hit, documented in these photos of Grassy Butte.


In 1936, the American economy was struggling to recover from the Great Depression. The Depression hit bottom in 1933, but the recovery was slowed in rural states by droughts and grasshopper plagues, leading to crop loss and economic hardship. In July and August of 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt toured nine drought-stricken western states, including North Dakota, to observe the conditions firsthand. In a fireside chat one month later, on September 6th, 1936, the President addressed the drought, the plight of farmers, and labor issues.

Watch the video, featuring the photos of FSA photographer Arthur Rothstein, accompanied by the first few minutes of FDR’s fireside chat.

Photos by Arthur Rothstein. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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4 thoughts on “President Roosevelt Visits Dust Bowl North Dakota

  1. Enjoy this web page so much. Sure would like to see some pictures and history from eastern North Dakota!!


  2. Don’t forget….Minot, North Dakota was known for some time, as Little Chicago. Many Lawmen, yes, even from Chicago, were called on to clear out bootlegging, prostitution, robbery, theft, murder. We are certainly not a ghost town, but, it is said, there are, or were, many underground tunnels in Minot, for at least bootlegging.


  3. Mr. Standlien’s comment brings back a memory shared with me by my father. He was born in 1913 on the family farm south of Turtle Lake (about half-way between Minot and Bismarck) and lived there all his life. County road 29 (also know as the “Red Trail”) ran by the farm. He told me that he used to see “revenuers” pursuing bootleggers on their way south in the 20’s and early 30’s. Presumable they were headed towards Bismarck. He said (not verified) that much of the bootleg came from Canada. Roosevelt was to a great deal responsible for the repeal of the Volstead Act (18th amendment) by way of the 21st amendment – or so I think.


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