The 7th & 8th grade students at Springwater Environmental Sciences School have spent the last month learning about the four tiers and ten segments of Oregon Timber Trail and researching the geology and cultural history along its length. The Timber Trail route travels over many diverse landscapes in Oregon with countless layers of history to unfold. We heard from several students that the hardest part was just choosing which story to focus on.
Last week we visited the guided tour they put together for us and we'd be lying if we said we didn't learn quite a bit! Each student orated their area of study from the Klamath Tribes in southern Oregon to the formation of the Columbia River Gorge.
We were surprised that many Oregon tribes held captives or slaves. We learned that Hole in the Ground was created by steam (or Phreatic) eruptions, not a meteor. We learned the history of the Free Emigrant Road and who Meek Lake is named after. We learned that astronauts trained on the slopes of Mt Bachelor, as well as military ski troops during World War II.
We discovered that the Old Cascade Crest has some hidden geology anomalies and about the rich history of the Fish Lake Remount Depot and Santiam Wagon Road. We learned about the devastating Hood River Valley freeze and why the Hood River is no longer called Dog River.
Most of all we learned that in a few short weeks, these students had gone from never having heard about most places along the Oregon Timber Trail to becoming experts on the areas and teaching us things we didn't know.
It's amazing to see how, in such a short period of time, the Oregon Timber Trail has become bigger than just a bike route: it's a vector for education; a motivator for public land stewardship; an inspiration for the youth and economies of many rural Oregon communities; and a fun, healthy, and sustainable means of experiencing the cornucopia of Oregon.
Next year, the students say, we'll have to teach them how to go bikepacking.
Not only was this an exciting and educational interactive presentation, we're taking what the classes learned and including excerpts from the students' research in the forthcoming route guide. Look for it later this month.