Luther to show third and fourth films in six-part Ken Burns' documentary

'The Empire of Grandeur' premiers Jan. 17; 'Going Home' Jan. 21

"The Empire of Grandeur" and "Going Home," episodes three and four of the six-part Ken Burns' documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, on the Luther College campus.

Sponsored by the Luther College Center for Sustainable Communities, Winneshiek Energy District and Green Iowa AmeriCorps, all screenings are open to the public with no charge for admission.

Each of the six episodes lasts approximately two hours. Participants do not need to attend every screening, but it is recommended. All viewings are in Valders Hall of Science, Room 362.

The third episode, "The Empire of Grandeur," focuses on 1915-19. Although during this time there were more than 10 recognized national parks, there is no federal governing agency regulating them. A group of conservationists pushed Congress to establish one government agency, with the National Park Service being created in 1916. Stephen Mather, the first NPS director, zealously worked to increase the tourist industry to the parks as well as expand the number of recognized areas. One of his biggest priorities focused on recognizing the Grand Canyon as a national park.

Episode four, "Going Home," describes the time from 1920-33, showing the increase in tourists visiting the growing park system. With the increased use of automobiles, Mather worked to create more roads in the parks. In the eastern part of the United States, writer Horace Kephart and Japanese immigrant George Masa worked to establish a park in the Smoky Mountains and in the west, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. began buying land in the Teton Mountain Range of Wyoming to donate to the government for the creation of a new park.

The final episodes will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28.

"The National Parks: America's Best Idea" was produced by Ken Burns and Dayton

Duncan and highlights the United States Park system and its history. It originally aired on the Public Broadcasting System in 2009 and won two Emmys in 2010: for outstanding writing in episode two "The Last Refuge," and for outstanding non-fiction series. It took more than six years of filming to capture the scenes, including shots from Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Florida Everglades and the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: