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The Dust Bowl

Airs Tuesdays, April 23 & 30, 2013 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: During the decade-long drought that turned the southern Plains into the Dust Bowl, the hardest hit area was centered on Boise City, Oklahoma, in a part of the Panhandle formerly known as No Man’s Land. And the worst storm of all hit on Palm Sunday, April 14, 1935—a day remembered as Black Sunday. Here the storm sweeps over a farmstead on its way toward Boise City.

THE DUST BOWL, a two-part, four-hour documentary by Ken Burns, premiered November 18-19, 2012. It was written and co-produced by longtime Burns collaborator Dayton Duncan.

What if you had lived in the Dust Bowl?

You are about to embark on an experience that will show you what life was like on the southern Great Plains during the Dust Bowl. On your journey you will learn about the changing market and weather conditions and be asked to make decisions about whether to play it safe and keep your farm the same size or expand it for a greater profit. You will also meet several of your "neighbors," who are doing their best to make it. Some will stay on the land, trying to scrap out a living. Others will say "enough" and head west. What choices will you make? Get started

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Survey the causes of the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, when the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation.

See vivid interviews with 26 survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom-seen movie footage, that bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible perseverance.

The documentary is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us — a lesson we ignore at our peril.

Episode One: "The Great Plow Up" repeats on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 8 p.m. - In the first episode, feel the full force of the worst man-made environmental disaster in America’s history as survivors recall the terror of the dust storms, the desperation of hungry families and how they managed to find hope even as the earth and heavens seemed to turn against them.

Episode Two: "Reaping The Whirlwind" repeats on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 8 p.m. - In the second episode, experience the gradual relief as the families of the plains seek new lives in California and government conservation efforts — and a break in the drought in 1939 — eventually stabilize the soil and bring the farms back to life, but with dangers of another Dust Bowl facing future generations.

Ken Burns (PBS) is on Facebook, and you can follow @KenBurns on Twitter.

Video

Series Preview: The Dust Bowl

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Above: Survey the causes of the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, when the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. See vivid interviews with 26 survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom-seen movie footage, that bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible perseverance. The documentary is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us — a lesson we ignore at our peril.

Video

The Dust Bowl: Eyewitnesses

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Video

Woody Guthrie: The Great Dust Storm

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Above: In the introduction to episode two, Woody Guthrie sings "The Great Dust Storm" as historians and survivors talk about the conditions of living in the Dust Bowl during the Depression. View music credits.

Video

Uncovering The Dust Bowl

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Video

Photographers of the Dust Bowl

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