"Centennial" The Winds of Death (TV Episode 1979) Poster

(TV Mini-Series)



[first lines]

Paul Garrett: The American West of the early 20th century had seen many men come and go. The first, like the Arapaho chief Lame Beaver, were true custodians of the land. Taking only what they needed and giving thanks for a world they knew they could never own. The white men who came later like the French trapper Pasquinel and the Scotsman Alexander McKeag also understood the delicate balance that must be kept between the dictates of nature and the needs of man. The lesson was learned too by some who came west for one reason and found another for staying. Like Levi Zendt and Maxwell Mercy. There were others whose efforts helped evolved a system of land use which was one of the most advantageous in the world. The vast plains were reserved for cattle. And the ranchers, like John Skimmerhorn and Jim Lloyd, superintended the range carefully, knowing that their fortune was dependent entirely on the health and vigor of the grasslands. The rancher's partner was the irrigation farmer, like Hans Brumbaugh, who took the lands along the rivers and led water to them, creating gardens out of deserts and multiplying 50-fold the value of the land in a single summer. There was a fruitful partnership, for each could use what the other could not. Life was simple and placid. And had it been allowed to develop unimpeded it would have converted this part of America into a lasting preserve of beauty. But change was already on its way. Predators began to stream westward and breed concern only for the riches it could take from the land. The kind of men content with nothing less than reaping obscene profits from barren land without any concern for its health or its future. Near the end of the 19th century a Minnesota businessman named Soren Sorenson disappeared from the face of the earth. And a family named Wendell founded its future power and prestige on 5,500 stolen dollars. And a murder. By the year 1911, the railroads were heralding the promised land. Encouraging hoards of Americans to go west and file a claim and take their share of riches from the land. And take more when they could. And more. And more. And those who came had no way of knowing how greatly that would upset the balance between man and nature. And how close they would come to destroying a major portion of the nation. And themselves.

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[last lines]

Charlotte Buckland Seccombe: Only the land lives forever.

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