Gold Rush, Railroads and the Pony Express…Roadschooling
Technically, Roadschooling is a term used by homeschooling parents on the road who have their own curriculums. My little goes to an online school so though I’m still his Learning Coach, we do follow a state curriculum. As I shared in my previous school on the road post, we chose to have him enrolled in an online school because being advanced for his age his current brick and mortar school failed him miserably. None the less we are full timers and he’s schooling on the road. During a couple of the heavy rainy winter season months, we head south and as always we love to explore history on the road. I think if I had this when I was young I’d of enjoyed history much more!
We arrived at Ghost Mountain in Pollock Pines, off of the Pony Express Trail, last weekend. Just as Keagan has been learning about the American Gold Rush and he recently had a Live Lesson on the Pony Express Trail in Social Studies. It’s been a pretty darn cool being able to learn about history and stepping into history while on the road. Last summer while up in northern Oregon, we stopped by the Lewis and Clark’s end of trail statue in Seaside; which he had studied in his Oregon History class earlier in the year.
This week we are in El Dorado County, located entirely in the Sierra Nevada, from the historic Gold Country in the western foothills to the High Sierra in the east. There was construction on part of the Pony Express Trail but we were able to go down part of the business route and came across the local Post Office and the Sportsman’s Hall the only home station in California where riders changed on the Pony Express Trail. Now it’s a local Restaurant.
We also explored the town of Placerville, Sutter Creek and Jackson. Placerville was a central hub for gold mines operating in the Mother Lode region. The town provided many services, like transportation of both people and goods, lodging, banking, and it had a market and a general store as well. While there we took a hike down the El Dorado Trail, a train rail trail, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization works to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines. Last week Keagan had presented his portfolio for his Gifted and Talented Literature class on Riding the Rails, where he talked about the Central Pacific Railroad in California amongst others in the 18oo’s.
Then it was off to Sutter Creek, being know as the “Heart of the Mother Load”. Named after General John A. Sutter who mined it and under who’s regime gold was discovered. It’s still kept it’s charm only now it’s all about wine tasting. Quaint little shops, restaurants and wine cellars every where.
In Jackson we explored the Kennedy Mine and the Tailing Wheel. The mine, which closed during WWII was known as the deepest gold mine in the US. It was over a mile deep and 4,500 ft below sea level. It was among the most productive mines in the Mother Lode, an area from El Dorado County south. After the Gold Rush large piles of waste had to be removed after some heavy rains washed them from the mine covering farm lands and ranches. In response to the federal anti-debris law the Kennedy mine had to devise a way to get their waste to the impound which was over two hills. An elevator wheel system was created that moved the tailings through 4 wheels and flumes to the impoundment basin. Only one wheel remains standing today.
We take “school trips”whenever the opportunity arises while on the road. What better way to learn than hands on adventurous exploration!