Take a journey on the Cumberland through pioneering film to be shown Sept. 25 at Tennessee Tech

Journey through 14,000 years of Cumberland history through an acclaimed documentary to be shown Sept. 25 at Tennessee Technological University.

"Once Upon A River -- The History of the Cumberland" returns to campus for an encore presentation at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25, in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. The film, which explores the culture, traditions and people who made this region what it is today, is the work of Nashville songwriter Eddie Reasoner and has been praised by former Governor Winfield Dunn as a "great service" to Tennesseans. Its initial screening at Tennessee Tech in January attracted an audience of 900.

The two-hour film takes viewers on a visual journey through space and time as it weaves together history, stunning visuals, rare photographs and archival film footage of the Cumberland River and its importance to the region. Tennessee State Library Archivist Wayne Moore praised the work as the best documentary produced for Tennessee's bicentennial.

Reasoner, who spent seven years researching, writing and developing the film, will be on hand to introduce it and answer any questions the audience may have.

Among the film's rich panorama of history are:

  • Archival footage of Sen. Howard Baker Jr. dedicating the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area in the 1970s;
  • Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Fisheries Biologist Doug Pelren describing the creel surveys, water sampling and breeding of hybrid species of fish his agency engages in as it manages the river's ecosystem;
  • Lifelong Avondale native Booker T. Cullom providing perspective on African-American culture as he recounts memories of his father, who worked as a steamboat roustabout in the late 1800s, and stories of life along the river during the heyday of steamboat traffic;
  • And anthropological history of the region's first human inhabitants from Tennessee State Archaeologist Nick Felder and Middle Tennessee State University Anthropology Professor Kevin Smith.

    The event is free and open to the public with seating on a first-come basis. For more information, call Ilene Qualls at 615/372-6252.

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