Wyoming Arts Council

Author Tom Rea narrates Casper's history on C-SPAN show

This story by Tom Dixon appeared in the July 6 Casper Star-Tribune. It features historian and author Tom Rea, one of the founding committee members of the Equality State Book Festival and whose poetry was featured in the Wyoming Center for the Book’s Deep West anthology:

Casper will enjoy a weekend in the spotlight when C-SPAN features footage, interviews and stories about the city’s history, culture and literary figures next month.

Producers will be in town next week gathering material for several shows expected to air Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 as part of the cable channel’s Cities Tour.

The program is in its third year and covers small- to mid-sized cities on both coasts.

“There’s no host, just interviews with people from Casper,” said Ashley Hill, one of the producers. “Our initiative is to get out of D.C. and produce programs about cities that would otherwise not be seen by a national audience.”

Crews will visit historic and literary sites and speak to local historians, authors and civic leaders, Hill said.

The results can be found on “Book TV” and “American History TV.”

Some of those stories will be told by local historian and author Tom Rea. He will be one of the speakers at a kickoff event held at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.

Among the topics he’ll cover is the 1889 lynching of homesteaders Ella Watson and Jim Averell, something he covered in his recent book, “Devil’s Gate: Owning the Land, Owning the Story.”

“The thesis of the book is those who own the land get to tell the story of what happened, regardless of what really happened,” Rea said.

He said sensational but untrue stories put out by newspapers with access to the wire ended up dominating the narrative, leaving the real, more complex story untold until the 1990s.

Locals can follow the production team as it tapes that story and more, including conversations in Midwest about the Salt Creek oil fields, by following C-SPAN on Twitter.

Hill encourages people to use the social media site to share their stories, suggest good subjects and offer ideas of where to grab a meal.

“I really like C-SPAN for a lot of reasons,” Rea said. “I think they do a good job of being neutral. They just point their camera at events and let it roll, regardless of what happens.”

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