'Over Wyoming' to air on PBS


Photo courtesy of Wyoming PBS

A mountain still from 'Over Wyoming'.

Staff Report

Wyoming, seen from the air, amazes the eye: "The vastness of the plains, the ruggedness of the mountains, the uncertainty of the far horizon, the crispness and clearness of the air." Agnes Wright Spring wrote those words almost a century ago, but they fit perfectly today, as you'll see in the locally produced documentary, "Over Wyoming," which airs at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., March 9 on Wyoming PBS.

Wyoming PBS teamed with an international production team, Skyworks, to fly the peaks and valleys of Wyoming from border to border, recording on video what some consider to be the most spectacular sights in North America. The result is an hour-long documentary, narrated by Pete Simpson, that takes you from the grandeur of the Wind River Mountains to the old west remnants of Owen Wister's Medicine Bow.

Much of Wyoming from the air looks largely as it did a century ago in part because it's tough environment discouraged settlement. They made history here, but not cities. "Wyoming is really the key to the peopling of the continent," says geographer John Logan Allen, one of numerous Wyoming voices heard in the documentary. "They found it easier to get through Wyoming than to stop and try and settle."

That's because the state features corridors along mountain ranges running east-west, for routes like the Oregon Trail. This becomes clear when you see the vast expanses from the air.

Of course, there are people sturdy enough to settle in Wyoming, and Allen is one of many who tell their story, and Wyoming's, in the documentary. Historians, scientists, artists, young people and old, describe their particular attachments to Wyoming's landscape.

"You could probably have kept viewers enthralled just looking at the vistas shot from the helicopter," says producer Geoff O'Gara. "But Wyoming has voices as distinct as its landmarks." So we learn the pre-history of the Absaroka Mountains from paleontologist Dr. Kent Sundell, who describes the thunderous collapse of a volcanic range 30,000 feet high. Or we hear the personal story of poet Pat Frolander, who moved from the city to a remote ranch near Sundance and found "you husband the land the way you take care of your children, because it's in your care."

The documentary is enlivened by the music of national guitar flat-picking champion Jeff Troxell, from Powell.

From the natural beauty of rivers like the Belle Fouche or the North Platte, to the sinuous curves of a coal train heading south, or the poignant remnant of a ghost mining town, the birds-eye video gives viewers a new perspective on the Cowboy State, respect for its severe wildness, and affection for its unmatched beauty. What viewers realize, after watching "Over Wyoming," is that there's no "getting over" Wyoming.


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