By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
Seventy-five third-grade students from Lake Arrowhead Elementary School recently visited the Mountain History Museum in Lake Arrowhead as a part of their local history studies.
Their teachers, Carl Vaeske and Heather Gillmore-Chavez, along with mild-moderate teacher Monica Ortega, brought the kids to the museum in two groups. The morning group arrived at 9:45 a.m. and stayed through their lunchtime, enjoying eating lunch on the museum’s patio. Then they left to explore Rock Camp, north of Deer Lodge Park, an archeological site of a former village of the Serrano Indians who lived in these mountains seasonally for thousands of years, where they learned about the Serrano people.
The second group started at Rock Camp and came to the museum after their lunch, which they ate at Rock Camp. While at the museum, each group got to experience each of the six informational stations at the museum.
The museum was set up for them with special exploration stations for the students to experience. In class, the students have been studying the local history, including the Serrano and the forest. The docents had set up several special exhibits just for them. Vickie Walton demonstrated the Indian metates used to grind acorns, which they saw in bedrocks at Rock Camp. She taught how they were used by the Serrano and encouraged the students to grind some acorns, nuts and other items into the type of meal the Indians could cook into food.
Sheila Arnett had the pro-scope, an electronic magnifier, set up with feathers, leaves, fabric and other interesting items for the kids to be amazed by. They asked for their skin and hair to also be magnified. While in the General Store area, they were able to pick up old kitchen items such as heavy irons and cast-iron pans. This demonstrated that great-grandma had to be strong to work in the kitchen.
The search and rescue display was very popular as the kids pulled up the heavy box, using the power of five pulleys. Christine Penn showed how pulleys worked and how pulleys were also used by the early lumbermen to move trees without the use of an engine or horse.
The early day pioneers and lumbermen and the forest had their story told by Rita Spiegel in the new rear room, while Rhea-Frances Tetley shared the story of the local forest animals, offered some hands-on experiences and explained some safety rules about the forest animals. All of this was coordinated by Cindy Burnett, as she helped the students rotate between the various stations in the museum, and Karen Parish.
Caleb, one of the third-graders, said, “I thought this was so much fun and I learned about the Indians today, too.” David, another student, said, “The animals were my favorite part. They look so real.” One girl said, “I want to bring my daddy back here. He will like it too.” Teacher Mr. Vaeske pointed out how one of the students on the field trip was mentioned in the Alpine Mountaineer newspaper in an article about the earthquake drill last month.
The students were well behaved and respectful of the docents who were trying to quickly share information with them. They asked many on-topic questions and shared personal experiences of living on the mountain and their forest experiences. The adults who accompanied them asked good questions, too, which added to the students’ experiences and helped keep them focused.
The Mountain History Museum is now closed for the summer season, except for Thanksgiving weekend, when they will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the weekend of the Blue Jay parade on Dec. 2 and 3. However, the museum offers prescheduled tours to any interested group –Scouts, church schools, seniors – and to those who request them, all yearlong, by making arrangements in advance either through their website, mtnmuseum.org, or by leaving a message on the phone at (909) 744-8625.
The museum is located at 27176 Peninsula Drive at the corner of Rhine Road in Lake Arrowhead. The Mountain History Museum is operated by volunteers of the Rim of the World Historical Society, which was established in 1986.