The Dust Bowl as biggest man-made enviro disaster in US


Ken Burns' latest documentary debuted on PBS on Sunday night. "The Dust Bowl" begins near Boise City, Oklahoma and unfolds the ecological travesty that grew out of plowing the grasslands of the Great Plains to grow wheat — exacerbated by the economic collapse of the 1930s' Great Depression. The historic migration of refugees to California, with its lasting impact on Los Angeles, begins in Monday's second part.

The film uses many of the images shot by photographers for the New Deal's Resettlment Administration, called by photographer Edward Steichen "the most remarkable human documents ever rendered in pictures."


Watch The Dust Bowl Preview on PBS. See more from The Dust Bowl.

Local historical observation: the story of wheat plows disturbing ancient grassland, leading to erosive dust storms, widespread livestock die-offs and organized jackrabbit slaughters, played out on a smaller scale in the San Fernando Valley of the 1870s, 80s and 90s. You could look it up.

Top photo: Migrants in a pea pickers camp in Nipomo, California in 1936, by Dorothea Lange. Look closely at the face of the mother in the tent at the far right. You have seen her before. The Library of Congress

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent Television stories on LA Observed:
'SoCal Connected' gets new KCET season and exec producer
Cecilia Alvear, 77, trail blazing NBC News producer
Robert Osborne, 84, host on Turner Classic Movies
Midweek notes: Xavier Becerra, Jeff Michael, P-45 and more
Tony Valdez retires from Fox 11 news, last of a generation
Gwen Ifill, Washington journalist, 61
Vin Scully tribute to air live across SoCal
KTLA will air Vin Scully's final six games


LA Observed on Twitter