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I have a passion for local history and road trips that I combined to create Heritage Trek.  This project is a product of my frustration in not being able to find one online source of information and tools to conduct comprehensive tours of historic sites.  This includes not only the high-profile sites but the lost and/or obscure sites in local communities, off the beaten path.  Inevitably, conversations with locals (during our road trips) highlighted the history we were missing.  This project integrates local knowledge into mobile apps that facilitate self-drive tours of historic sites.  I believe our project will increase historical awareness that will promote site preservation and increase traffic within communities to enhance local economies. There are many historical gems that have gone relatively unnoticed by the public that deserve more attention.  Please have a look at my Project Page; I would be interested in your feedback.

Areas of personal interest include ghost towns and abandoned homesteads.  Old homes come in all shapes, styles, and sizes and are stark reminders of pioneering families and the communities they built.  Observing old homesteads create a window into the past:  the wooden enclosure of a hand-dug water well, ornamental plants established decades ago to add beauty to a demanding, often brutal existence, unique building architecture, abandoned field machinery that once supported the farm, and broad, deep porches that entertained visitors and provided relaxing family time.  As will all historic site and event locations, there is no substitute for being there.  I am fascinated with how my perceptions of places changes when I become physically and emotionally connected to what occurred at historic sites.  I created an Explore Forum, Abandoned Northwest Florida Homesteads photograph gallery, which provides examples of a few old homesteads. 

The gallery contains a photograph of the collapsed remains of a homestead in Westville, Florida that was the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of the “Little House” series) for almost a year.  They moved from Minnesota to Holmes County, Florida, in 1891 thinking the weather would benefit her husband's health but were unable to bear the high humidity and moved to South Dakota in 1892.  They were an early version of the “snowbirds” that now, seasonally frequent the Gulf Coast.  I would have never known Mrs. Wilder lived in Florida, if I had not passed the historical marker commemorating this chapter in their lives.  You never know what you might find, once you get off the main thoroughfares and explore rural communities. 

Mike Rainer

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Good one! I am trying to take history into account in my own series as well-- I am starting to do a lot on the Oregon Trail and will soon do some Idaho Ghost Towns in the future. Every time we explore we're looking at a bit of history, even recent history. It is important to record these things before they fade from memory an/or get paved over for a new development.

I'd be fascinated to hear more about how Florida was a destination or the early Underground Railroad, since under Spanish rule it was safer than trying to trek all the way to Canada.

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Hey Arik,

I think a benefit of connecting people with their history is to dramatically enhance historic site stewardship and preservation.  A feature of our mobile app is a journal that allows note-taking during self-drive treks to document the features, experiences, and interesting people met, with more than photographs.  Being able to spontaneously capture observed details will not only record things often forgotten later but add to the preservation record by providing feature- and temporally-based site data.  It sounds like you also have a lot of interesting history to work with.  I would enjoy hearing more about what you are doing!

I imagine some dry environments in parts of Idaho have given extended lives to many historic structures and features.  Here it is not only a fight against development and neglect but the moisture, humidity, and insects; however, I have observed structures built with virgin cypress and longleaf pine that have weather this environment well.

There are in fact, limestone caves in Jackson County, Florida, that were used to hide those escaping slavery.  This county and its rich history will be one of our initial mobile app trekking destinations. 

Thanks for reaching out!

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