AUGUSTA — The history and literary life of the capital city will be highlighted on national cable television by C-SPAN crews who are filming in the area this week.
C-SPAN producers in three small, distinctive blue Fords that the cable network calls local content vehicles will hit historical and literary hot spots in the city and surrounding area this week, digital cameras and editing equipment in tow.
It’s part of a tour highlighting the historic and literary aspects of mid-sized cities across the country.
“Augusta has a remarkable and broad history, one that goes right back to the roots of our nation,” State Historian Earle Shettleworth said Monday at Augusta City Center, during a kickoff event for the C-SPAN filming in Augusta.
Shettleworth, who was interviewed at length about James G. Blaine for C-SPAN’s recent “The Contenders” series, said Augusta has a significant history to tell, starting with the Plymouth Colony’s construction of a trading post at Cushnoc, roughly at the site of the current Old Fort Western, the oldest remaining wooden fort in the country.
“We want a national audience to get a flavor of what makes up Augusta,” said Debbie Lamb, coordinating producer of C-SPAN’s “LCV Cities Tour.” “The idea is to give our viewing audience a look at communities that they might not otherwise see” featured on television.
The results of the Augusta visit will be broadcast on the cable network’s nonfiction channel BookTV on C-SPAN2, which in Augusta is channel 20; and history channel American History TV on C-SPAN3, which in Augusta is channel 149. The programming is scheduled to run during a special weekend focusing on Augusta on Oct. 6-7.
This week the C-SPAN producers focusing on history plan to visit the Maine State Museum, the Maine State Archives, the State House, Old Fort Western and the Blaine House. They plan to interview locals about the former Edwards Dam, Augusta native and former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, and Shettleworth.
On the literary side, producers this week plan to explore the Maine State Library Special Collections; interview Winthrop’s Barbara Walsh, author of “August Gale: A Father and Daughter’s Journey into the Storm”; see where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” in Brunswick; interview Colby College professor Raffael Scheck, author of “Hitler’s African Victims”; and speak with Colby professor Elizabeth Leonard, author of “Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally.” They also plan talk to people in Augusta about what they’re reading and visit special collections at Colby and Bowdoin colleges.
“It’s an honor to have C-SPAN in our hometown,” said state Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta. “A city is judged not just by what’s new, but by what’s old; and we have a great deal of wonderful history in the city of Augusta.”
Time Warner, a co-sponsor of C-SPAN’s visit, helped organize the logistics of the week’s filming.
C-SPAN’s three vehicles, which are specially detailed Ford Transit Connects, were at Augusta City Center for the kickoff Monday.
Maine’s first lady, Ann LePage, said she hopes the TV crews get a chance to enjoy everything Augusta and the state have to offer, but she warned the drivers of the small vehicles about what she says has been her biggest challenge in the city: “getting around the rotaries.”
C-SPAN crews also will make presentations at Cony High School in Augusta and Winthrop High School, where, Lamb said, they will discuss a C-SPAN contest with students. Students in the contest are asked to record video messages to President Barack Obama.