I observed a living history tour of the Desert Queen Ranch in Joshua Tree National Park. The goal of the tour is to demonstrate to guests what life and work was like during the height of the ranch in 1939. To do this, two park rangers collaborated to provide a unique experience for guests.
To begin the tour, the first ranger provided some basic background information about the ranch and how it was acquired by the National Park Services. The ranger then explained the concept of a living history tour and prepared the guests for the trip back in time they would take after climbing over the hill. The ranger described how the group would emerge in 1939 and would meet a miner on the ranch named Henry. Before the ranger left us, she provided a context for the guests to better understand the state of the world in 1939, noting such things as Gone With the Wind had been named Best Picture at the Oscars, television had been unveiled at the World's Fair in New York, and wars in both Europe and Asia continued. Again emphasizing the interactive nature of the tour, the ranger encouraged the group to ask Henry his opinions on the events of the day such as: "How do you feel about the Germans?" or "What does he think about the President?" Finally, the ranger gave us a role to play as well, informing us we had been hired by Henry to work on his mine in the area and were his new employees.
After the group climbed over the small hill and met Henry, the tour began. Henry took the group on a tour of the ranch to orient us as his new employees. During the tour, he explained the mining process used in 1939 and how the Keys family, the owners of the ranch, lived and made ends meet through a variety of small businesses. If we came across something newer than 1939, Henry simply acted as if it did not exist. At the end of the tour, Henry removed his helmet to signify we had traveled back to 2010 and could ask him any other questions we may have about the Keys and the ranch after 1939.
Since the tour took place on a historical site, no technology was used during the presentation. The ranger referred to the artifacts, buildings, and natural formations of the ranch. In addition to his knowledge of the ranch, his knowledge of the time period of the 1930s allowed him to answer specific questions such as, "How much will we be paid?" and "What would be a good stock to buy?" The strategy of questions and answers helped the group form a deeper understanding of the ranch and life in 1939. The inquiry model made the group more engaged with the ranger and we learned even more by asking specific and historical questions.
Analysis of the Theoretical Frames
Knowledge Giving and Facilitating
During much of the tour, the ranger, Henry, acted as both a knowledge giver and a knowledge facilitator. He provided an overall narrative of the ranch with other short stories about specific locations and artifacts. As stated by Grant, "individuals and events [of Key's Ranch] [were]...