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Documentary on the Sangamon River premieres at UIS

February 14, 2006

SPRINGFIELD – The premier of the documentary film The Sangamon River: A Sense of Place will be at 7 p.m. February 28 in Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  The showing, presented by UIS’ Center for State Policy and Leadership, is free and open to the public.

Directed by UIS Professor Charles Schweighauser and produced by the UIS Office of Electronic Media, the hour-long film is a profile and a celebration of the people, ecology, history, and economy of the Sangamon River Valley.  Nearly nine years in the making, the documentary “captures the charm and beauty of the river and both its calm and raucous nature,” said Schweighauser, who has canoed most of the river’s 215 miles.

From its beginning near Ellsworth to its end at the Illinois River at Beardstown, the Sangamon River flows through 10 counties, from McLean to Cass, and through private land as well as 10,000 acres of public land.  The film features interviews with a spectrum of Sangamon, Menard, and Macon County residents – ranging from commercial fishermen to farmers, merchants, environmentalists, and poets. “People use the river for many purposes such as boating, canoeing, commercial and sport fishing, swimming, skating, and other recreational activities. And they use its water for both drinking and industrial purposes,” Schweighauser said.

The film captures many examples of life along the river including the (legal) practice of “fish hogging,” during which fishermen wade into the water to search for hollow logs, favorite spots for catfish to spawn.  The men feel inside the logs for catfish and pull them out using only their hands.

Narrated by Rich Bradley, news director of WUIS/WIPA public radio, the documentary was previewed last November as part of the Second Annual Illinois History Video Fair, held in conjunction with the 26th Annual Illinois History Symposium presented by the Illinois State Historical Society.

Schweighauser said his interest in doing the documentary first began in the 1980s when he taught a course for teachers called The Sangamon River Valley: A Sense of Place and directed a video called Illinois Prairie: A Sense of Place.

Schweighauser is professor emeritus of Astronomy/Physics, English, and Environmental Studies at UIS. He may be reached at 206-6721.

 

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.
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