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Source:  American Experience

“The Swamp” tells the dramatic story of humanity’s attempts to conquer the Florida Everglades, one of nature’s most mysterious ecosystems.

Home to a profusion of plants and animals found nowhere else on the continent, the Everglades in the 19th century were an immense watershed covering the southern half of the Florida peninsula.

Most Americans at that time believed swamps were filled with diseases and noxious reptiles and saw them as obstacles to the nation’s progress.

The idea of draining the Everglades became the goal of many entrepreneurs, politicians, and salesmen who saw great potential in turning the massive wetland into a profitable enterprise. Altering the landscape of the Everglades unleashed a torrent of unintended consequences, from catastrophic floods to brutal droughts.

Told through the lives of a handful of colorful and resolute characters, including Hamilton Disston, the wealthy entrepreneur who first attempted to drain the swamp, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the writer who became an ardent advocate for preserving the Everglades, “The Swamp” chronicles the repeated efforts to conquer what was once seen as useless wasteland and the passionate efforts to preserve America’s greatest wetland.

Watch chapter 1 of “The Swamp” above and the entire film at PBS.

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