|PBS Film - “Overland Park”- 2010|
Documentary Film Celebrates Overland Park, Kansas Roots
Rails to Suburbia: The Strang Line and Overland Park
Through vintage photos, interviews with local historians and public officials, and narration from actor Michael Gross (“Family Ties”), Rails to Suburbia tells the story of how in the early 1900’s the Strang Line Railroad helped to put the city on track to becoming a leading suburban community.
A film premiere was held on October 19, 2010 at the Rio Theatre, 7204 W. 80th Street. The film will have its broadcast premiere on KCPT-TV later in the fall 2010. CLICK HERE for more details.
CLICK on pictures to view enlarged versions.
We hope you enjoy the following rare post cards of the Strang Line, courtesy of collector Bruce McLean. Bruce is a member of the National Railway Historical Society - Kansas City Chapter.
NOTE: Original post cards have been colorized for effect.
Ogerita, c. 1908
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Our latest film was about
In 2004, we met Richard Luckin, an award winning film maker of documentaries for PBS. Since then, it was our privilege to work with him on three projects.
Our latest film was about the suburb that would become Overland Park, Kansas, the dream of rail and real-estate visionary William B. Strang. You can read more about this project in the Sun Newspaper article below.
Ours To Give: The Long Legacy of an American Family was released in 2007. It chronicles the life of timber baron R. A. Long and his daughter, Loula Long Combs, who became a national sensation in the show-horse ring and the Mistress of Longview Farm in Lee's Summit, MO. This film was the recipient of four national awards, including the Silver Telly, the Communicator Award, the Hermes Award and the Aurora Award. CLICK HERE to read more about Ours to Give.
Our first project was a 2005 collaboration on the orientation film for the KC Rail Experience at Union Station Kansas City, which also garnered awards in its field. CLICK HERE to read about some of the work involved in that project.
Overland Park’s Strang Line Spurs the
Written by Loren Stanton
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
A documentary is in the works that could give Overland Park, Kansas some national television exposure.
Lenexan Pete Hansen, a journalist and national authority on railroad history, is collaborating on a film that will examine the story behind Overland Park’s founding and early growth.
The focus of the half-hour documentary will be on city founder William Strang and his inter-urban railroad line, which was built at the turn of the century between Kansas City and what became Overland Park.
“The idea is to use Overland Park as a case study for suburban growth trends that have evolved nationwide. That will make it more interesting to national audiences,” Hansen said. “It’s a good case study because of how … (the city) sprang up along a railroad. The automobile then morphed the community into something else. Development was no longer centered on a railroad depot and a few blocks around it. The automobile allowed (the growth) to go anywhere.”
Hansen is editor of a twice-a-year publication, Railroad History. He also writes for the monthly magazine Trains.
At times, Hansen is a go-to source when national television networks look for an expert on rail history. CBS, NBC and Fox news all have interviewed him. NBC did a dual interview with Hansen and nationally noted historian Michael Beschloss when the network did a story last year about President Obama taking a ceremonial train ride to his inauguration.
The idea for the documentary was suggested to Hansen by F. W. Wagner, president of the Overland Park Historical Society.
Hansen was intrigued by the possibility and so was Rich Luckin, a producer and director of historical documentaries for PBS stations. Those two, plus Hansen’s wife, Bonnie, are collaborating on the project.
The partners have agreed on an outline and the narrative of the half-hour documentary. Hansen is writing the script, and Bonnie will be a production assistant.
The three also worked together on a documentary about Kansas City lumber tycoon R. A. Long.
Pete Hansen and Luckin also produced the 8-minute introductory video shown at the rail museum in Union Station.
Film crews from the local PBS station, KCPT, will start shooting the Overland Park project in May 2010, and Hansen said it probably will be completed in the fall. The film will be syndicated for PBS stations by the National Education Television Association, which distributes materials to about 110 public television stations nationally, Hansen said.
Among those to be interviewed in the documentary is Bill Withuhn, transportation curator for the Smithsonian Institution.
There also will be interviews with several local historians and current and former elected officials.
Hansen long has been immersed in his primary subject matter. “I’ve been interested in railroad history since I was a kid. Some railroad enthusiasts are into photography or modeling. I’m more in the direction of the scholarly and journalistic sides,” said Hansen, a former Shawnee Mission South student.
After being laid off from his corporate communications post at Sprint, Hansen saw an opportunity to turn his interest into his vocation.
Strang intrigued him as a topic to explore not just because of his rail line, but also because of his business savvy.
“He was a pretty good promoter. He was selling real estate out here, and the inter-urban railroad was a means to an end,” Hansen said.
Strang was not a believer in the build-it-and-they-will-come approach. After the rail line was in place, he found other creative ways to spark interest in his new community and draw people to the properties he was selling.
The entrepreneur developed an airfield in 1919, Wagner said, and staged air shows that drew up to 30,000 spectators.
Most of the visitors rode Strang’s rails to get there, and during the shows, real estate sales agents worked the crowds to sell Strang-owned plots of ground, Hansen said.
“I consider those shows the equivalent of a Chiefs game today,” Wagner said.
Hanson agreed, although he said the air show crowds were even more impressive than turnouts for the football team. A gathering of 30,000 at that time was equivalent to about 7 percent of the metropolitan area populace of that era. A sold-out 80,000-seat Arrowhead Stadium today is equal to about 4 percent.
The documentary project is being aided by a $30,000 grant from the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund. The grant was approved by the County Commission.