NDSU students produce historical film on Battle Lake, Minnesota

Photo by: NDSU
Photo by: NDSU

(Fargo, ND) -- North Dakota State University public history students have produced a documentary film, “The Branches of Battle Lake: The Colehour Family, Prospect House, and Local Resort History.” The project depicting the history of Battle Lake, Minnesota, as part of the Digital History course taught by Angela Smith, associate professor of history and public history director.

The film explores the history of the resort town of Battle Lake by focusing on early settlers, Colehour, his family, and their Prospect House hotel that was built in 1882.

The students conducted extensive research at the Prospect House, wrote a narrative script, organized and conducted interviews, and gathered images to illustrate the story. The film is divided into three parts: an overview, a short biography of Colehour, and a profile of the Colehour women — Cap’s wife, Kate; daughter Katherina; and her daughter Kathryn — and their contributions to Battle Lake.

“Every fall my Digital History class works on a new regional history project,” Smith said. “This year, the students worked in three teams and created a three-part documentary about the history of Battle Lake. The film sections will become part of the Prospect House Museum’s interpretation when it reopens in the spring.”

Smith said the students traveled to Battle Lake, located in Otter Tail County, three times as they researched the topic, wrote the scripts and assembled the first draft of the project.

“I am proud of their hard work and the products we have produced together,” she said, explaining that she was hands-on for the final film production. “The students, both graduate and undergraduate, learned to conduct historical research, write a story, put together storyboards, record voiceovers and find appropriate images to illustrate the narrative.”

The film is scheduled to premiere on Friday, December 9th, at 7 p.m. at the Fargo Theatre. There will be a question and answer session after the showing that will include Jay Johnson, the great-grandson of James “Cap” Colehour, a Civil War veteran and early Battle Lake settler.

Admission is free.