For the past two years, Dr. Erica Risberg, working with the Oregon Historic Trails Advisory Council (OHTAC), has developed an educational and tourist project about the Barlow Road with funding from the Oregon Community Foundation’s Historic Trails Fund. Dr. Erica Risberg, Historian and President of Shared Context Consultants, LLC, headed the project with the assistance of members of the Oregon-California Trails Association and its Northwest Chapter plus members of the OHTAC.
The funds were used to develop the website, www.oregontrail-barlowroad.org, which lists ten sites along the Barlow Road. The website was designed to help educators teach 4th and 5th grade students learn more about the Barlow Road. It has panoramic views of the sites, as well as historical photos when accessible, contextual descriptions of each site, and diary excerpts that were recorded by voiceover talents to engage the students more when learning about each site.
Subsequent funds were used to make some of the material accessible through a mobile application: Next Exit History (www.nextexithistory.com). The purpose of using the application is to make the material accessible to tourists. They can access the material while they have wifi service, and the information will be downloaded on their mobile device. Once the application has been downloaded, go to “Backpacks” and search for Barlow Road and download it. While traveling along the Barlow Road, there won’t be much wifi service, but since the material has been downloaded onto the device, it can be accessed. The downloads are counted, so there is a method of tracking built in that can be used to garner support for future funds from Travel Oregon or other organizations that support cultural heritage tourism.
About Erica Risberg and Shared Context Consultants, LLC:
Dr. Risberg has over twenty-eight years of experience working in historical research for government agencies and private enterprise. Her experience includes cultural analysis, technical documentation, coordination and management of cross-agency interdisciplinary studies. Her company, Shared Context Consultants, LLC is a women-owned business that specializes in conducting research and working with local museums and agencies to develop methods to engage people with history. She has worked on several research projects with History Associates, Inc. and assisted the Museum of History and Industry (Seattle) and the Maine State Museum with developing content for exhibits.