By Moses Leos III
Kyle’s history, primarily its role with the International Great Northern Railroad, will get a motion picture makeover.
At a cost of $25,000, the Hays County Historical Commission is in the process of crafting a documentary that chronicles the early days of Kyle.
For chairperson and longtime Kyle resident Kate Johnson, the goal of the documentary focuses on giving residents and visitors an in-depth look into Kyle’s past.
“We are trying to show the history (of Kyle) and how Kyle began. It’s teaching about the railroad and teaching about how it’s progressed [in the city] over the years,” Johnson said. “It will be wonderful for kids and adults alike to understand the city’s history.”
Ideas for a documentary were forged when the Kyle Train Depot Board sought early photographs of the city. The photographs were meant to assist in the board’s restoration of the depot, turning it into a museum for visitors.
But Johnson said the board ran into issues, as photographs of Kyle’s beginning were “scarce.” Instead, Johnson said the board wanted to start from the city’s inception, primarily in conjunction with the Great Northern Railroad.
“We found some (photographs) that were from the mid-1880s and 1890s,” Johnson said. “But we wanted to start from the beginning.”
The depot board chose to go with a live-action documentary. They commissioned the film to the HCHC, as Kyle doesn’t have a heritage association.
Richard Kidd, who has completed seven documentaries for the commission in the past, was selected as its director.
His documentary list includes films on artist and sculptor Buck Winn, along with a film on the 101 Ranch owned by the Kuykendall families.
“It’s local history that you won’t learn in school,” Johnson said. “It was fun doing these documentaries.”
Kyle’s documentary will focus on the city’s history “as a whole,” according to Johnson. A primary focus will be on how the railroad created Kyle.
The focus will center on 19th century railroad tycoon Jay Gould, who owned the International-Great Northern Railroad.
Gould first conceptualized the idea of the city when he needed a railroad stop between Austin and San Marcos. Gould made a deal with property owners David Moore and Fergus Kyle, who then auctioned off their land under the Auction Oak to create what would eventually become Kyle.
Johnson said the film would cover several other topics, such as the first families of Kyle, along with the Auction Oak, which is located along Sledge Street.
According to Johnson, filming is underway. The most recent shoot took place on June 10 in Jefferson, TX. That was where the HCHC discovered Gould’s personal rail car, which was restored in 1954.
“It’s really nice. It’s all wood. It’s a beautiful car,” Johnson said. “The interior was just as he left it. They’ve done an outstanding job to make it the way he used it for his business.”
Johnson said the next shoot will involve finding a tree “in the middle of nowhere” that is similar to the Auction Oak.
In addition, the HCHC and Kidd are seeking 30 volunteers to mirror the 30 people that rode with Gould to see about the new town. Obtaining reenactors that have period clothing and equipment is a “big plus” Johnson said.
People who work in theatre may also have costumes to help.
“It’s coordinating that and finding the people that want to do this,” she said.
Teaching the history of Kyle, and its railroad roots, is Johnson’s goal toward keeping its roots in the city.
“I hope the railroad is a part of Kyle’s history in the future,” she said. “It is today, and it was in the past. I hope we’ll hang on to our roots.”