American Experience (1988– )
6 user 11 critic

Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern 

Struggling to keep the family farm in the family.

On Disc

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2 wins. See more awards »




Episode credited cast:
Bob Blankenship Bob Blankenship ... Himself - Auctioneer
Dean Eilts Dean Eilts ... Himself - Auctioneer
Marge Harold Marge Harold ... Herself
James Jordan Jr. James Jordan Jr. ... Himself
Gini Jordan Gini Jordan ... Herself
Grace Jordan Grace Jordan ... Herself
Jeanne Jordan ... Herself
Jesse Jordan Jesse Jordan ... Herself
Jiggs Jordan Jiggs Jordan ... Himself
Joe Jordan Joe Jordan ... Himself
Jon Jordan Jon Jordan ... Himself
Kim Jordan Kim Jordan ... Herself
Mary Jane Jordan Mary Jane Jordan ... Herself
Pam Jordan Pam Jordan ... Herself
Russel Jordan Russel Jordan ... Himself


The Jordan family has farmed in Iowa for generations. But the farm crisis of the 1980s and 1990s catches up with them, and they are in danger of losing the farm. One of the daughters, a documentary filmmaker, comes back home to document the extraordinary efforts the family makes to keep their farm. Written by yortsnave

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Where one family takes a stand.




Official Sites:

film's offical page | PBS





Release Date:

16 January 1995 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlantic, Iowa, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

A personal story with a universal appeal
3 November 2003 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

Family farms have been a valuable component of American society and a source of traditional values since the founding of the Republic. Since 1981, as a result of government policies that favor agribusiness and food processor conglomerates, 750,000 farms have gone out of business at the cost of one million jobs in the rural economy. In the late 1980's, documentarian Jeanne Jordan along with Steven Ascher returned to her family's farm to help her parents when a new impersonal Regional bank called in a $220,000 debt. The farm in rural Iowa near the town of Rolfe that had survived the dust bowl, the depression, two world wars now faced foreclosure. The resulting documentary Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern was awarded both the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Narrated by Ms. Jordan (in a surprisingly unemotional manner), the Aschers filmed events as they took place and what they saw is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. The director explains, "I was raised on Westerns. Red River, High Noon, Gunsmoke--where the bad guys sometimes won but never prevailed. Our film is a Midwestern. It's the story of my family's farm in Iowa: From crossing the Mississippi by covered wagon in 1867 to driving to Daddy Date Night in 1967. From my great-grandfather fighting off the Crooked Creek Gang in the 1880's to my father fighting off foreclosure in the 1990's."

To keep the land that had been in the family's name for 125 years and still pay off the bank, the Jordans came up with a unique solution. They would auction off their livestock, machinery, and household goods and move to town while their son Jim and his family ran the farm as tenants. Watching the parents go through the trauma of selling off household goods that had been in the family for generations is sad (I can't even handle garage sales) but their courage and determination keeps it upbeat. This is not only the story of a family in crisis, it is also a story of growing old, letting go, and moving on. Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern is a personal story with a special feeling for the rural Midwest and a disappearing way of life that has a universal appeal.

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