Indiana will soon be calling "all aboard" to the nation’s movie industry, attracting filmmakers looking to incorporate trains into their plots—thanks to the work of a group of Ball State students and their faculty mentors.
Ball State journalism
professors Ken Heinen
and Richard Shoemaker
are directing a highly motivated Building Better Communities Fellows student team developing a sophisticated marketing plan for the Indiana Transportation Museum, based in Noblesville, Indiana. The project includes a redesigned, interactive Web site, featuring videos, sounds, and an extensive online photo catalog.
In the end, the project allows Hollywood moguls to easily access one of the world’s largest train collections owned by the museum. The volunteer-operated, nonprofit organization's mission is to preserve Indiana's railroad history, educate the public in the history of the railroad, and provide the experience of railroad travel as it used to be. Visitors can ride on tracks once used by the Indianapolis and Peru Railroad Company, and more recently, the Nickel Plate Road.
"Historically, trains have played an important role in thousands of movies made since the early 1990s," says Shoemaker, a resident of Noblesville and a train enthusiast. "We are in the midst of marketing the state of Indiana to film makers and the museum's train collection could be a key asset in transforming the state into a major movie production area."
Heinen, a former Washington Star
staff photographer and active member of Washington's press corps for 34 years, regularly travels to the museum with his student team as they collect photos for a digital online catalog of rail equipment and local communities along the local railroad lines.
"The only way to appreciate a railroad museum is to experience a train ride," says Heinen. "You feel the engine move the train, you hear the sounds the cars make and you smell the locomotive as it glides through the countryside or city."
Kristyn Loudermilk, class of 2010, from Crown Point, Indiana, admits she is in awe of the volunteers as she worked on several roles in the project, including developing the Web site and videotaping youngsters as they ride the rails for the first time.
“Going to the museum and experiencing the rides that volunteers put together is amazing. The men and women who volunteer at the Indiana Transportation Museum are so passionate and selfless. They spend so much of their free time doing something they have loved since childhood.”