A group of Eugene seniors toured some of the area’s most interesting history recently via the community's most beloved form of transportation – the bicycle. Escorted by Tom Powers, a program supervisor at the Campbell Community Center and a biking enthusiast, the group of six started at the Peter DeFazio bike bridge and continued on to a replica of the cabin of Eugene Skinner, the founder of Eugene.
Powers is a strong advocate of the benefits of Recreation. He says, “If you can stay active and learn new things while developing new social connections…those are the best preventative measures I can think of for a host of medical conditions. I look at my job as not only making the lives of people more fun, but also preventing a decline in their health and well-being.”
In 2012 the City of Eugene celebrated the150th anniversary of its incorporation. Powers decided he would help commemorate the occasion by doing some research into the history of Eugene and offering an educational bike tour to residents. The tour took riders through the Campbell Center's neighborhood which includes many historic features and landmark buildings, then along the Willamette River up to the top of Skinner’s Butte, the east Skinner Historical District and downtown Eugene.
To gather information for the tour, Powers spoke to people at the Lane County Historical Society, conducted research online, and interviewed people who live in the east Skinner Historic neighborhood. Powers also used his Master’s Degree in geology to include a geological history of the city, as well.
The first tour took place in September of last year, and this most recent tour was its second installment.
From the DeFazio bike bridge, the tour route passed the new “Riverplay Discovery Village” sprayplay and playground along the Ruth Bascom River Bank bike path, and on to the replica of Eugene Skinner’s cabin that is located in Skinner Butte Park. The Cogswell Miller House was the next destination, and after that tour participants stopped by the Shelton McMurphey Johnson house and the Oregon Electric Station. The tour concluded with a visit to the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, the second largest performing arts venue in Eugene.
Debbie Miller, a teaching assistant for elementary schools in Eugene, attended the event with her husband.
“It was nice to be able to incorporate exercise with learning something new about Eugene. I didn’t realize the new play area at Skinner’s Butte Park was designed to be a model of Eugene,” she said. “I learned new facts to bring up on a field trip in the future or to suggest some teachers. I definitely want to get more involved with more events like these as I get more free time.”
The Campbell Community center specializes in organizing activities for older adults. In addition to outdoor excursions, the center offers music programs, social activities, education classes, and many other recreational opportunities.
“[Our] mission is to improve bodies and minds while having fun. We want to increase citizens’ fitness…help people grow, thrive, and learn new things,” said Powers.
After all, Eugene’s slogan is: “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors.”
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Ginger Werner will be a junior at the University of Oregon this fall, studying for a double major in Journalism and Chinese. She’s interning with radio station KWVA, 88.1, this summer and hopes to get a job as a journalist after she graduates next spring. She wrote this story for a journalism assignment.