Designer of Oregon Trail game among visitors during Scotts Bluff National Monument anniversary

GERING, Neb. — Park rangers at Scotts Bluff National Monument continue to line up events to celebrate the attraction’s 100th anniversary as a national monument this year.

After the government shutdown at the beginning of 2019 prevented park rangers from working, park ranger Kayla Gasker hit the ground running once she was back at work.

“I had a lot of irons in the fire, and I was waiting on confirmation of dates when the closure happened,” she said. “It was hard to sit at home knowing these emails were piling up.”

One of the bigger events confirmed for mid-June is Philip Bouchard, lead designer of the Oregon Trail game, coming to town to talk about the trail. There will also be several copies of the game available for the public to play.

“For those who grew up in the 1990s, they’ll remember playing the Oregon Trail game, how far they made it and if they died of dysentery,” she said.

Gasker said she is looking forward to seeing Bouchard, a former educator.

“He will compare and contrast the real trail and the game, which makes the trail seem like a novelty,” she said.

Anyone who has played the game will remember that Chimney Rock is in the game, but the monument is not.

“The landmarks are too close together, and the algorithms of the game wouldn’t allow it,” Gasker said. “Chimney Rock was chosen because it was the most noted landmark on the trail.”