Lens Flare Stillwater, a not for profit project originally funded by The Stillwater Area Community Foundation, announces its updated web site and free Loop Trail app to visitors, students, tourists and residents. This project won The Great Idea competition in 2016. The project objective provided a web-based app for mobile devices that enables anyone to carry the history of Stillwater in their pocket while traveling through a geo-location time tunnel. New historical locations along the Loop Trail are featured on both the web site and APP as a service to all users.

Safely take a virtual tour of Stillwater in your favorite armchair by going to LensFlareStillwater.org . The best way to experience the History of the Loop Trail is in person, on site. Get some exercise while keeping a safe distance from others on the trail as you learn about what was once here. Anyone can get the free app by going to the bottom of the Home Page of the Lens Flare Stillwater web site. Users can then click on the graphic that tells you to “Enjoy The Loop Trail”. Now, anyone can Walk or Pedal their way through this local history. The browser-based app senses your location and whenever you enter a different, invisible “Geo-Fence” on the trail, your device responds with historical graphics, text narratives and audio information about the very same location as it was many years ago. The Audio Trigger, an innovation by Bob Bilyk of Lodestar Learning Systems is new in 2020 and allows users to be alerted by sound when a different Geo Fence has been entered. The new Loop Trail will take you five miles around the Historic Lift Bridge and the New St. Croix Crossing Bridge with at least ten history-filled locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The software for the app is powered by LodeStar, an authoring tool provided by LodeStar Learning Systems, a Minnesota Company that sells the LodeStar eLearning authoring software to Educators. Former Director for Online Learning at Metropolitan State University, Mr. Robert Bilyk says,”To view the town of Stillwater through the lens of the past, the group has combined the arts of storytelling and photography with the new technology of mobile phones and geo-location-aware applications.”

Dr. Molenda, a retired 3M research manager and marketer heads up a small volunteer group of history buffs who provide the content, narratives and populate the software fields for this project.

“The project is alive with content from the John Runk Collection, an early photographer who collected and archived his and other photos of Stillwater for historical purposes,”said Molenda. “Minnesotans are fortunate to have this gift from Mr. Runk.” This year we are featuring some historical photographs of the area sourced from The University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Murphy Library Special Collections.

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