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City kids tour the West

Pete Fowler
Vail, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post Indepedent\Michigan fifth-grader Michael King Jr. climbs the stairs at the Frontier Historical Museum in Glenwood Springs followed by Principal Tonya Reed.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Fifth-graders from Saginaw, Mich., saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time this weekend on a trip to the see the West.

But the concept of mountains can still be abstract for a young flatlander.

“It was exciting,” fifth-grader Michael King Jr. said. “We’ll probably see them on the way back.”

“You’re in them now,” fifth-grade teacher Debbie Stanolis said.

“It’s just like a regular town,” he said, pondering the difference between looking at mountains on the horizon and actually standing on them.

The group travels by train to chase the pioneering spirit. They learn about Doc Holliday, the Hotel Colorado, life in the Old West, gold rushes and Lewis and Clark.

It’s an eye-opener because many of the kids at the North Saginaw Charter Academy are underprivileged and have barely left Saginaw’s city limits, Stanolis said.

“It’s history alive,” she said.

The group of around 35 are following the Oregon trail and a book called “Patty Reed’s Doll: The Story of the Donner Party.” Glenwood Springs is the first highlight on the nine-day trip that costs about $700 per student. The school’s done it for about five years.

The trip was created by a staff member of the school and a tour guide who are big into trains. Students come here for the experience of what it was like for pioneers and Native Americans, Stanolis said.

“No one else does anything like this,” she said.

Monday they saw the caves at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and toured the Frontier Historical Society Museum and the town. In previous trips the historical society has cooked buffalo stew, had some of its Ghost Walk characters perform for them and taken the kids to the old cemetery. This time that didn’t work out due to a train delay Sunday.

There was hope everyone would be able to visit the Glenwood Railroad Museum and swim in the Hot Springs Pool before boarding a train to Sacramento, Calif., in the afternoon.

Next stop ” Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento.

There they’ll get to see the fort and Patty Reed’s Doll ” a doll in the story that a girl carried with the Donner Party. After that, they’ll go through Portland, Ore., and head back east through Montana.

They’ll canoe and partake in a salmon-bake along the Willamette River. They’ll get to see buttes and mesas and spots where Native Americans are believed to have herded buffalo over cliffs.

And they’ll see the Rockies again on the way back.


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