Tauck tour company partners with documentary maker Ken Burns on national park, Civil War tours

By Beth J. Harpaz, AP
Friday, October 8, 2010

Tour company partners with Ken Burns on park trips

NEW YORK — Filmmaker Ken Burns is partnering with the Tauck tour company to offer trips to national parks, Civil War sites and other destinations related to Burns’ documentaries.

“We have been so thrilled at the ability to travel to these national parks and have had such transformative experiences, that we were excited when Tauck approached us and asked if we would help them design tours,” Burns said in a phone interview Friday with The Associated Press from his offices in Walpole, N.H.

Burns acknowledged that the parks are accessible without a guided tour, but said he hoped the Tauck itineraries would benefit “from our more than 20 years’ experience out in the national parks, coming to understand not just their obvious beauty, but also their intimate secrets.”

Burns and his longtime collaborator Dayton Duncan will create two Tauck itineraries for 2011, one for national parks in the Southwest and other for Civil War sites in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. In addition, Burns and Duncan will produce more than 30 documentaries, five to 15 minutes long, to be shown while guests are transported by motorcoach on a dozen other Tauck trips.

Burns and Duncan will also make appearances at a few one-time Tauck events, including a Civil War-related trip in May 2011 and a tour on the roots of jazz in New Orleans in October 2011.

Tauck spokesman Tom Armstrong said pricing and exact dates will begin to be listed at the Tauck.com website within a month. The company is based in Norwalk, Conn.

Burns’ most recent documentary, “The 10th Inning,” about recent baseball history, aired in September on public television. His 2009 documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” is credited with helping to increase visitation at the parks by 10 million over the previous year. His series on “The Civil War” originally aired in 1990 but is scheduled to re-air next year as the country marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

Burns said his favorite Civil War sites are places where history is “not just excavating dry dates and facts … but also listening to ghosts and echoes.”

“At Gettysburg, Antietam and Vicksburg, you can sort of hear the distant bugle and that’s the experience we all want to have,” he said.

Burns said choosing a favorite park has as much to do with “who was holding your hand” when you visited as what you saw or did. In his case, a visit to Yosemite reminded him of visiting Shenandoah with his dad when he was 6, and as a result, the California and Virginia parks are his favorites.

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