Red Runs the River Behind the Scenes

  • Genre: Historical Drama
  • Crew: Faculty, staff, and students in the Division of Cinema at Bob Jones University
  • Cast: Faculty, staff, and students of Bob Jones University
  • Locations: Unusual Films Sound Stage, old mill near Bob Jones University, a farm near Traveler’s Rest, SC, Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock, NC
  • Music: Composed and directed by the late Dr. Dwight Gustafson, former Dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication; Performed by the BJU Symphony Orchestra


In 1964, Red Runs the River was taken by Dr. Don Williams, the Director of Audio-Visual and Motion-Picture Education at the University of Missouri and the Chairman of the committee on International Relations for the University Film Producers Association, to represent the United States at the International Book Fair in Krakow, Poland.

Also in 1964, Red Runs the River was selected to represent the United States at the International Congress of Motion Picture and Television Schools in Budapest, Hungary by the University Film Producers Association.

Historical Research:

A major strength of Red Runs the River is its historical accuracy. Research teams were assigned various aspects of the film and in preparation for her task as director, Katherine Stenholm read some 30 volumes dealing with the Civil War time period. Technical advice was gleaned from many sources, including General Willard Webb, author of “Crucial Moments of the Civil War,” and Colonel E. H. Hoffman, an authority on Civil War weaponry.


Along with an actual Civil War cannon and rifles, the film included many replicas. Fifty “workable” rifles were constructed by Unusual Films, and several wooden cannons were fabricated and could be loaded and fired with surprising realism. The remaining “artillery” consisted of non-working models. Much of the smoke and sound of the battles came from explosives prepared by the science faculty at Bob Jones University.

Special Props:

Items that give the ring of authenticity to a film are frequently rare, but God has always provided Unusual Films with just what we need. The “Old Kelly Mill” seen in the film was just twenty miles from the Bob Jones University campus and was complete with sluice and water wheel still in operating condition. The old mill was built several years before the Civil War.







Obtaining a narrow-gauge railroad of Civil War vintage was a bit more difficult. “Tweetsie,” an antique steam engine and tourist attraction in Blowing Rock, NC was loaned to the studio. Making use of a ton of makeup—including a new smokestack, head lamp, cowcatcher, and paint—the “Tweetsie” appeared as the “orange and Alexandria Railroad” and the “Virginia Central.”

Perhaps the most interesting prop used in the film was the coffin used for General Jackson’s funeral. Locating a coffin from the mid-1800s was not an easy task. The director of a local funeral home recalled having seen a solid cast-iron coffin made in the early 1850s by the Crane and Breed Casket Company of Cincinnati. Crane and Breed was contacted and sent the priceless item—the only one of its type still in existence—to be used in Red Runs the River.