Documentary Film: “A Railroad Runs Through It”
The Ashland Museum new documentary film about Ashland, “A Railroad Runs Through It: The Unique History of a Virginia Train Town” premiered on Nov. 10, 2012 to great reviews from the audience at Ashland’s Firehouse Theatre. Copies of the video on DVD are now available for sale at the Museum at $10. All proceeds from the sale of this DVD benefit the Ashland Museum.
The title, “A Railroad Runs Through It,” is a nod to the Robert Redford film title “A River Runs Through It.” Ashland’s “river” is the train and its tracks, which run through the finest, most historic part of town. People come to Ashland to dine in restaurants just 40 feet from the tracks, or to watch and photograph the trains as they come through town. Residents, students, and frequent visitors learn to love and respect the trains that lull them to sleep at night.
Commissioned by the Ashland Museum with funding from CSX, Tom Wulf’s latest documentary is about the railroad history of the town. He has interviewed historians, RF&P and CSX officials, and long-time residents about growing up in Ashland with the trains. Among those interviewed, Franklin Jackson, whose father and grandfather worked as mail handlers for the train, tells of the importance of the railroad in everyday life of Ashlanders, from the jobs to the transportation it provided. James Scanlon, RMC’s historian, tells the apocryphal tale about “termites holding hands” to keep some of the older buildings together as the train traveled through town. Betty Carol Stevenson remembers being a Snow Queen on the Santa Train in the 1960s. All the stories are woven together to provide an engaging history of Ashland and its railroad.
Ashlanders Tom and Ellen Wulf began their careers in broadcast journalism at WCBD-TV in Charleston, S.C. Today, Tom’s video production company, WulfTeam Productions, produces documentaries featuring central Virginia stories and performances. His recent documentary, “A Tale of Two Cities: The Circuit City Story,” premiered at the 2010 Virginia Film Festival and aired on area PBS stations in 2011.
Wulf is also the executive director of the Ashland Main Street Association.