Morehead State University

Poster Title

Student Production of the Documentary Film "Buried Treasure: Kentucky's Saltpeter Mines in the War of 1812"

Institution

Morehead State University

Abstract

The multi-disciplinary course, Frontier Industry in Kentucky, was designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of American industrial development prior to 1840. Faculty from the disciplines of History, Geography, and Communications provided expertise in the learning environment. In addition to readings and discussion of the social, political, and economic context, as a case study the class engaged in a the production of a professional-quality documentary film concerning the mining of nitrates from Kentucky caves and cliff lines and their manufacture into gunpowder. The mining of nitrates (saltpeter) and gunpowder production occupied a brief but important phase in Kentucky history, primarily during the War of 1812 period. Most of the filming took place on location at key mining sites including the Red River Gorge area and several saltpeter caves across the state, including the well-known Mammoth Cave. In addition, filming took place at the former site, in Lexington, of the largest gunpowder mill ever to operate in the state. Each student played an active role in production, ranging from research and scriptwriting, production of graphic stills, logistics and liaison, to interviewing and narration; technical production expertise was provided by three Communications students. At the former mine sites, students were able to view historic artifacts and to film interviews with a collection of experts upon the history and archaeology of the industry. Students in this class invested considerable time to gain an understanding of early American industries and to produce an educational film representing the vital role played by a specific Kentucky industry in a time of war.

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Student Production of the Documentary Film "Buried Treasure: Kentucky's Saltpeter Mines in the War of 1812"

The multi-disciplinary course, Frontier Industry in Kentucky, was designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of American industrial development prior to 1840. Faculty from the disciplines of History, Geography, and Communications provided expertise in the learning environment. In addition to readings and discussion of the social, political, and economic context, as a case study the class engaged in a the production of a professional-quality documentary film concerning the mining of nitrates from Kentucky caves and cliff lines and their manufacture into gunpowder. The mining of nitrates (saltpeter) and gunpowder production occupied a brief but important phase in Kentucky history, primarily during the War of 1812 period. Most of the filming took place on location at key mining sites including the Red River Gorge area and several saltpeter caves across the state, including the well-known Mammoth Cave. In addition, filming took place at the former site, in Lexington, of the largest gunpowder mill ever to operate in the state. Each student played an active role in production, ranging from research and scriptwriting, production of graphic stills, logistics and liaison, to interviewing and narration; technical production expertise was provided by three Communications students. At the former mine sites, students were able to view historic artifacts and to film interviews with a collection of experts upon the history and archaeology of the industry. Students in this class invested considerable time to gain an understanding of early American industries and to produce an educational film representing the vital role played by a specific Kentucky industry in a time of war.