As we continue to mark the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, some people showcase the history of the famed migration every day. Bethany Nemec with The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon City spends every day bringing those stories to life.
Bethany truly is a Modern Pioneer, and "Not just because I wear the clothes" she joked, while dressed in period garb between tours. Bethany is a trained educator and a lover of history. Her family actually crossed the trail in 1853. It's their story that inspired her to make a career out of keeping history alive.
George Washington Gibson, pioneer and ancestor of modern pioneer Bethany Nemec.
"What gets me motivated every morning to wake up and get dressed like this is that history is a really interesting topic that I want to help more people be excited about. It's not just dates and names to memorize, it's stories about people that had real experiences that can be really inspiriting today and help us connect to who we are."
As someone who is a trained educator, Bethany knows the importance, and difficulty, of capturing and keeping someone's attention. Especially kids. So her and the rest of the team have created a museum with exhibits that aren't just meant to be looked at, but experienced.
"Kid's often need some hands-on activities and quirky facts to really engage them. We offer candle dipping, butter making and a lot of the things were chores back then but kids find today is really fun activities. They can load a wagon, actually dress up in pioneer clothes, and that plays a big role in helping kids connect to that history and learning that we're not all that different today."
As kids are heading back to school, now's a good time to bring the family down to The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and other great museums and heritage locations here in Mt. Hood Territory to really drive home the history they're learning in school. And what better time to teach them an appreciation for our history than during the 175th anniversary of the largest human migration ever.