Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 15, 2010

Ebey’s Reserve offered a glimpse of the future this morning as several guests accompanied Reserve Ranger Lauren Gansemer on a short hike from the cemetery overlook to the Jacob Ebey House. The participants heard some rarely shared back history about Isaac Ebey’s travels before settling on Whidbey Island in 1850, including his trip to California during the gold rush and his purchase of the brig ‘Orbit’ as a business venture with three other partners to head to the new Puget Sound region. They heard how Ebey was credited with naming Olympia after the Olympic Mountains he’d passed while sailing on the ‘Orbit’ and how he explored many areas of Puget Sound in his search for the perfect place to stake a claim. On October 15, 1850 Isaac Ebey claimed the prairie that now bears his name and immediately set out to persuade the rest of his family to make the journey out west. Isaac sent practical information, counseling his family and friends making the journey to transfer all their wealth into oxen and cattle, to ride horses on the trail instead of staying in the wagons, and to carry only necessary items such as food. His wife, several of her family members, and the Crockett family made the trip west in 1851. A few years later the rest of Isaac’s family followed, arriving in 1854. Isaac’s father, Jacob Ebey claimed the ridge overlooking the western side of his son’s property, naming his new land ‘Sunnyside’. Isaac and Jacob built the house that still stands overlooking the Ebey Prairie, and the destination of this morning’s hike.
Upon arrival at the Jacob Ebey house, after coffee, fruit and scones, the guests gathered at the front steps and heard Ebey’s Reserve Operations Manager Craig Holmquist give details about the restoration work done on the Jacob Ebey house over the past four years. Craig told how the original windows were restored, how a new foundation was put down is a style similar to the original foundation, and how the chimneys were lifted with the rest of the house and re-pointed by the NPS restoration crew. He pointed out the new hand split cedar shake roof and talked about the changes on the interior of the building in preparation for the Jacob Ebey House debut as the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve Visitor Contact Station in spring 2011.
Reserve Manager Mark Preiss then welcomed the guests inside the house where the Long Range Interpretive Plan (LRIP) was presented. The plans are the work of many months and many people who care deeply about Ebey’s Reserve and are committed to sharing the messages central to the Reserve with visitors from around the world. With the LRIP distributed to the guests, Emi Gunn spent a bit of time reviewing the main interpretive themes, showcasing some of the Reserve’s recent achievements and talking about the next priorities on the horizon.
The Long Range Interpretive Plan, while quite a mouthful to say, is the cornerstone of all Reserve educational projects. The LRIP serves as a resource for businesses, non-profits, volunteers and other stakeholders within the Reserve to share Central Whidbey Island’s natural, cultural and historical heritage with visitors.

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