Column published in the Smith County Pioneer, January 16, 2014

By El Dean Holthus

This week’s column will be about the Civil War documentary, “The Road to Valhalla”, being shown in the Center Theater, January 25-26 with showings each afternoon’s starting time at 1:30 pm.

There be may some who question why the Trust is sponsoring a movie when all they have to do is work for and at the Cabin. I have written before and would remind our readers that Home on the Range, being in the public interest, is not all about “taking in” but also about “returning”; this returning is indicated and required by our mission statement which includes education. This documentary is educational and directly related to Kansas history of which Dr. Higley, his song, and the Cabin are so deeply imbedded.

The 90 minute documentary, “The Road to Valhalla”, tells the story of the struggles along the Kansas-Missouri border during the American Civil War. The film uses historic photographs, interviews and reenactment footage to tell the tale that covers everything from large battles to guerilla actions and the effect the war had on the civilian population. This war actually began in 1854 before Kansas was a state and 7 years before the Confederate States seceded from the Union.

The film is narrated by the legendary actor Buck Taylor, who starred in Gunsmoke, Tombstone, Gettysburg and more recently in Cowboys and Aliens. The film is directed by Ken Spurgeon and utilizes the talents of nearly 200 volunteers, reenactors and educators.

This production was made possible by the donations and support of the Kansas Humanities Council, The Prairie Rose ChuckWagon, Northfield School of Liberal Arts, Hephner TV, Strategic Financial Concepts, Inc., Old Cowtown Museum, Phil and Becky Elder, Jim and Bev Mershon, Jim Graf, Greg and J.W. Johnston.

The Road to Valhalla is the third documentary by Lone Chimney Films following “Touched by Fire: Bleeding Kansas”, and “Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre”. Lone Chimney Films Inc. is a 501©3 not for profit educational documentary company based in Wichita, Kansas. Ken Spurgeon can be reached at 316-259-4182 o go online at

It is exciting that Ken, and the Lone Chimney Board of Directors have chosen Smith Center for the third showing of “The Road to Valahlla” and even more exciting that they have chosen to the tell the story of Home on the Range in their next 1 hour documentary for Public Television. The HOR story is special to them in that it will be their first production covering the State and will have national interest.

We urge you to attend one or both of the showings, in the comfort of the Center Theater, to support Home on the Range and Lone Chimney Films and in addition to meet Ken and view their work; you MAY be asked to be a part our production when filming starts later this year in Smith County. Orin Friesen is working on our musical score and Smith Center’s own resident writer, Sharon Black, is writing the screen play.

Most ticket sales will be at the door, there will be limited advanced ticket sales for “The Road to Valhalla”; some will be available in the Smith Center Chamber of Commerce office and also check with local merchants as we are asking them to pre-purchase a few for their customers.

As always any questions call me at 785-695-2347 or cell 785-476-5216 or Gerald at 785-697-2641. Thank you everyone for your support. See you at the movie.