Historic tour

Steve Chapman, left, shows Longfellow Elementary School second-graders from Lorita Groover’s class a historical photo of the inside of the building that now houses F Street Five & Dime. The youngsters were on the tour Thursday as part of their study of local history.

Longfellow Elementary School second-graders took a history tour of downtown Salida Thursday with Steve Chapman of Salida Walking Tours.

Teacher Lorita Groover said although the second grade has taken a history tour of the downtown area in the past, this is the first time in her 18 years as a second-grade teacher that a professional has led the tour.

She said it’s nice to have another messenger for content, especially in history. Having someone who dresses in period clothing talking about the past sparks a little more interest.

She said Chapman engaged the youngsters and did a good job of making the past relevant to their lives now.

Chapman gave the students an abbreviated version of his commercial tour, with stories about the town’s railroad history, the demise of Sheriff Baxter Stingley, fires that gutted the downtown area in the 1880s and the history of several buildings on F Street.

In the past teachers always served as the tour guide.

Chapman said teaching children about history shows them that this is not just a bunch of old buildings.

“We exist inside living history that we should be proud of,” he said. “I think it gives students perspective on our heritage and a sense of pride that they are in a community with such a rich tradition of working hard and building something worthwhile.”

He said one girl on the tour told him she was amazed at the “thousands of little things” in town she had never noticed.

“She was so excited to see her Salida in a new light,” Chapman said.

Local history is part of the second-grade program at Longfellow, and the classes take several field trips to learn more about the area.

On Sept. 6 the youngsters hiked to Loyal Duke’s monument with a stop at Bank of the West’s Salida history mural on the way back to school.

A driving trip to see other historic sites in the area, like Maysville, is in the planning stages, and an October trip to the Buena Vista Heritage Museum and Depot is scheduled for early October.

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