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Ben Barnes Campaign Train (1972)

Gordon Wilkison

Silent | 1972

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  •  Ben Barnes' wife, Nancy, to his left 
 
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  • About the video
  • Ben Barnes Ben Barnes
  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
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This footage is from a Barnes political rally, featuring a live band. The introduction is given by a man in train engineer's clothing. After the speech, Barnes boards a train named the "Victory Special." Next, some nice aerial shots of the train racing through the Texas countryside on its way to the next stop, Tulia. More speechifying ensues, then all aboard for Plainview!

Born in 1938 in Gorman, Ben Barnes won a seat to the Texas House of Representatives while still a student at University of Texas Austin. In 1965, at the age of 26, Barnes was elected the youngest House speaker in state history. During his time as speaker, he prioritized the financial needs of the state's colleges and universities, helped pass legislation enforcing a minimum wage for farm laborers, and played a significant role in the passage of clean air and water legislation.

Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
 
A particularly notable moment is his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
 
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
 
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.