Blue Ridge PBS’s “Story of the New River” chronicles the history of the New River and highlights a number of fascinating stories told by area historians and local residents with ties to the river, including three Radford residents.
Glencoe Mansion, Museum and Gallery director Scott Gardner is featured in the production, as are local historians Lewis Ingles “Bud” Jeffries and Sarah Carter. Three years in the making, the documentary features “stunning drone videography and a number of historical re-enactments” according to PBS.
Historian and Education Director of Wilderness Road Regional Museum April Martin provided assistance to preserve historical accuracy. Additional local historical consultants include Tal
Stanley, Professor of Civic Innovation at Emory and Henry College in Emory; Tim Thornton, Instructor of Appalachian Studies at Radford University; Ken Miller, historian at Norfolk & Western Historical Society in Roanoke, and Daved Sandefur, historian at the Grayson County Historical Society.
Gardner said he thinks the documentary is “fantastic,” and “gives a view into the New River’s history and the culture that has developed around it,” and said he was happy to be involved.
“I was glad to be involved with the project,” said Gardner. “Lisa Fenderson from Blue Ridge PBS was great to work with. The New River is such an important part of Radford, and it was great that Radford figured so much into the storyline of the New River documentary.”
Gardner said he has already seen the effects of the educational resource the documentary provides.
“Working at Glencoe Mansion and already having visitors come in after seeing the documentary, I can already tell that people have gained new insight into how much they didn’t know about the river and the people who have lived along it,” he said. “Several people have come in intrigued by the information related to the Native Americans who inhabited the area that is now Bisset Park.”
Sarah Carter is a local historian and lifelong resident of Radford who was interviewed for the documentary. Carter said she was “quite honored” to be asked to be a part of the documentary.
“I am glad to know that a story and understanding of the New River has finally been brought forward,” Carter said. “I am glad I was able to include my family’s history, who have been here since slavery.”
“The river has been such a part of all of us who have lived here in Radford,” she said. “There were those who lived here from the ‘census to their graves,’ and there are still descendants left to enjoy the beauty and the fruits of the New River. I hope the viewers will receive a better history and knowledge of the river and how important the river is to us, as well as enjoy the river and be proud that the river surrounds us. I hope they don’t take the river for granted and instead relish its beauty and take care of what God has blessed us with.”
Carter said she learned new facts about the New River as well.
“I am glad ‘The Story of The New River’ has been told and I am glad that through the documentary I was able to learn things that I didn’t know about the river,” she said. “Now all the pieces of its history have all come together and have been made complete for me.”
Blue Ridge PBS President and CEO William Anderson said, “The documentary is very much a regional history lesson for viewers in Southwest Virginia and beyond. PBS is known for history programming, and Blue Ridge PBS is well-known for telling the stories of our area. ‘The Story of the New River’ is no exception. We are truly the region’s storyteller.”
The documentary features original music recorded by local band Eight Point Star. The soundtrack CD features several songs written about the New River and its history, along with a few traditional old-time tunes including a remake of “New River Train” originally recorded by Henry Whitter of Grayson County sometime around 1924.
The documentary is dedicated to long-time Giles County resident Jim Connell who passed away
earlier this year and is featured in the documentary as a descendant of Adam Harman, the local farmer who discovered Mary Draper Ingles after her escape from Indian captivity in 1755. The Mary Draper Ingles story about her terrifying journey back to Virginia along the New River features heavily in the documentary.
“The Story of the New River” will run at the following times: Wednesday, Nov. 24, 10 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Friday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Saturday, Nov. 27, 5 p.m.- Southwest VA PTV 15.2; Sunday, Nov. 28, 8 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Tuesday, Nov. 30, 8 p.m. – Southwest VA PTV 15.2; Thursday, Dec. 2, 7 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Friday, Dec. 3, 10 p.m. – Southwest VA PTV 15.2’ Saturday, Dec. 4, 3 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Sunday, Dec. 5, 4 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Sunday, Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m. – Southwest VA PTV 15.2; Monday, Dec. 6, 8 p.m. – Southwest VA PTV 15.2; Friday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Saturday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m. – Southwest VA PTV 15.2; Sunday, Dec. 12, 7 a.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Sunday, Dec. 12, 1:30 p.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Sunday, Dec. 26, 1 a.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Monday, Dec. 27, 3 a.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1 a.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Wednesday, Dec. 29, 3 a.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Thursday, Dec. 30, 1 a.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1; Friday, Dec. 31, 3 a.m. – Blue Ridge PBS 15.1.