Synopsis by Brooke Hodess
The American Experience presents Surviving the Dust Bowl, a one-hour account of the farmers of the Southern Plains who endured extraordinary conditions during the 1930s. This video traces the families as they traveled to the Plains in search of the good life. Finding rich topsoil, they felt they had hit gold and began plowing the land to sow their seeds of success. But unpredictable weather patterns and abusive farming techniques took them by surprise. Following a short-lived spell of bountiful crops, drought replaced the rains. Viewers learn about the unrelenting heat that turned the soil into dust because of overplowing. Then high winds whipped the dust into blinding storms so thick that people were coughing up dirt. Viewers experience the disillusionment that sent some packing for California, while others died of disease. But the majority of survivors stayed, their drive still thriving. Surviving the Dust Bowl explains the practical and drastic measures that kept these livelihoods and spirits afloat.