A locally produced film on the role Kansas and Missouri played during the Civil War has won the best documentary award at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
The award will be presented for “The Road to Valhalla” on Saturday night at the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City.
The 90-minute documentary, six years in the making, is the third by Ken Spurgeon’s Lone Chimney Films, a nonprofit organization. The group also produced “Touched by Fire: Bleeding Kansas” and “Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre.”
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 in Norse mythology where warriors go after dying in battle.
The film was directed by Spurgeon, and well-known character actor Buck Taylor – who starred in “Gunsmoke,” “Tombstone” and “Gettysburg” – is the narrator. More than 200 volunteers, educators and re-enactors participated in the making of the film.
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 that 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 that 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.