OPT’s New Documentary Shows How Wilson’s Creek Became a National Park

Nov 28, 2017

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek was one of the first in the American Civil War. However the history of the location doesn’t stop at the end of the battle. The team at Ozarks Public Television set out to show how the site transformed from a battlefield to a national park.

Credit Ryan Welch / KSMU

“The battle took place in 1861, and the park didn’t start until 1961,” said Jason Ferber, producer, writer and editor of the OPT documentary.

According to Ferber, he began work on the documentary last October and just recently finished the project.

The Past and the Park: Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield” begins by talking about the events of the battle itself and takes viewers through the park’s history and up to present day. The documentary highlights the numerous changes the park has experienced over the years and what the National Park Service does to take care of the grounds.

People might not realize what it took to turn the battlefield into a national park, said Ferber.

“It covers the history of the battle, because that needs to be in there, but it really also covers the history of the park which is kind of the missing story a lot of people don’t know.”

Ferber said the main goal of the piece aligns with that of other OPT documentaries: to educate and entertain.

“I hope that people learn something,” Ferber said. “To me I try to learn something every day and that’s really what I hope people do. I hope people learn something about the area that they live in. We get information bombarding us all the time, but nowadays it’s more on a national level and not on a local level.”

He added, “This is a way you can learn your local history.”

Other recent OPT’s documentaries include Missouri State University Baseball-A Winning Tradition and Stay Tuned: The Beginnings of Springfield, MO Television.

“The Past and the Park: Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield” premieres on OPT Thursday at 8 p.m. with a rebroadcast on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m.

OPT and KSMU are both a service of Ozarks Public Broadcasting.