More than a mile long, the Grand Coulee Dam is the largest concrete structure in the U.S. In the fall of 2011, dam operators agreed to open the spillway just for American Experience. "It was very exciting that they agreed to spill for us for a short period specifically for the film," said Associate Producer Lauren DeFilippo. "We ran to the top and bottom [of the dam] in about 30 minutes to capture all that we could" on film.
This 15-second time-lapse video shows the spillway closing. The water flowing through the spillway makes the Grand Coulee appear white, though when the water stops, the concrete appears black.
They were the first to brave the unknown.
In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded from New Orleans to Illinois, leaving a million people homeless and leading to a major black migration to the North.
When an earthen dam broke without warning, a small city in Pennsylvania was swept away in a wall of water over 30 feet high.
George Eastman introduced the Kodak and Brownie camera systems and transformed photography into something anybody could do.
Engineered by William Barclay Parsons, the 21-mile, four-track route of the New York City Subway was the largest public works project in history.
High on a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The Last Stand, the final act of General George Custer's larger-than-life career, played out on a grand stage with a spellbound public engrossed in the drama. Part of the Wild West collection.
From Joseph Smith's discovery of gold tablets to persecution, migration, and settlement in Utah, the film explores the history of the most American of religions.