This blog is a companion to the multimedia documentary Bridging Rails to Trails. The blog provides details on the project’s status, behind-the-scenes activities and background information.

The Project
Bridging Rails to Trails explores the 100-year evolution of the American Tobacco Trail from a railroad crucial in tobacco manufacturing to a unique linear park. The trail corridor’s history reflects the rise and fall of Durham’s tobacco industry, and Durham’s evolution toward a healthier, more people-focused community in the 21st century. Currently over three-fourths of the new recreational trail is open to the public and it is a major family recreation draw. When complete, it will cover 23 miles in Durham, Chatham and Wake counties and provide people of all ages with attractive, safe, accessible and free places to cycle, ride horses, walk, jog and skate.

The documentary, produced as both a CD-ROM and a website, takes the viewer on an interactive journey of ‘stops’ down the trail. Video segments explore the varied sections: the people who use the trail, the volunteers who are making it a reality, and the communities adjacent to it. Slide shows of archival photos and oral histories of tobacco and railroad workers bring its history to life. These stories include topics of green space conservation, changes in spaces and communities, healthy lifestyles, and historic redevelopment.

The Director
Carol Thomson (cthomson at firestreammedia dot org)  is a multimedia producer who resides in Durham, NC. Carol first moved to the triangle area in 1986 and worked as a software developer until 1999 when she moved to Australia. She then shifted her focus to documentary and multimedia work and began her documentary studies at QPIX, the Queensland Filmmaker’s Centre in Brisbane. Carol returned to Durham in 2001 and completed her Certificate in Documentary Studies at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in 2005. Carol owns her own multimedia company in downtown Durham, FireStream Media.

Carol is passionate about Durham and documentary work. She’s also an avid mountain biker and trail runner. Bridging Rails to Trails allows her to roll these interests together – and that’s a good thing as documentary work is a labor of love! When Carol isn’t working on her multimedia projects (or even when she is) you may find her on the American Tobacco Trail.

Other documentary projects: