The Dust Bowl

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It was the worst manmade ecological disaster in American History. Ken Burn's newest film, The Dust Bowl, chronicles the environmental catastrophe that, throughout the 1930s, destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, turned prairies into deserts and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world.

The Dust Bowl

November 18 & 19 at 7pm on PBS North

Written and co-produced by longtime Burns collaborator Dayton Duncan, THE DUST BOWL tells the story of the farming boom in the early 20th century that transformed the grassland of the southern plains into wheat fields. Once a drought hit in 1931, winds began picking up soil from the open fields and grew into dust storms of biblical proportions. Each year for nearly a decade, the storms grew more ferocious and more frequent, sweeping up millions of tons of earth, killing crops and livestock, threatening to turn the southern plains into a Sahara, even spreading the dust clear across the country. Children developed fatal "dust pneumonia," business owners unable to cope with the financial ruin committed suicide and thousands of desperate Americans were torn from their homes and forced on the road in an exodus unlike anything the United States had ever seen.