Ken Spurgeon’s latest movie, “The Road to Valhalla,” will premiere Saturday night at the Fox Theater in Newton.
The 90-minute documentary, six years in the making, is the third by Spurgeon’s Lone Chimney Films, a nonprofit organization. The organization also produced “Touched by Fire: Bleeding Kansas” and “Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre.”
In his latest film, Spurgeon said he was prompted to look at the role both Missouri and Kansas played during the Civil War and the lasting legacy in Kansas when the war was over.
“There were lots of places that had a role in the Civil War, but only one place where the Civil War was born,” Spurgeon said. “That birth is identified in the fight for freedom, and that is Kansas.
“We were born out of crisis and conflict. It had its mark on us more than Missouri. ”
Spurgeon’s film uses historical photographs, interviews with historians and re-enactment footage. It was filmed primarily in Kansas and Missouri — including Wichita, El Dorado and Yates Center — and at five farms in south-central and southeast Kansas.
Valhalla is a mythical place where warriors go after dying in battle.
“Without tipping off the ending, we look at what it meant to be a Civil War veteran and why Kansas was known as the soldier state and why we have all these Union memorials,” Spurgeon said.
According to Kansapedia, the Kansas State Historical Society website, Kansas troops suffered nearly 8,500 casualties during the Civil War and sustained some of the highest mortality rates of any state in the Union — 61 percent.
Some estimates indicated more than 100,000 Union Civil War veterans claimed Kansas as their home state by the mid-1880s.
Many migrated to Kansas to start their lives over on the untamed prairie and in new towns and cities. The Kansas Historical Society estimates at one time Kansas had nearly 500 posts of the Grand Army of the Republic for Union veterans.
Today's visible legacy from these veterans is found in more than 100 monuments in Kansas cemeteries and cities.