Shawn Brannan partnered up with Anderson on another venture, serving as creative director for Talking Trail — an application that provides an in-depth, podcast-like oral history lesson for historical sites.

Talking Trail was designed to take guests “beyond the interpretive panels,” giving them more than just one or two sentences.

“It’s going really well,” Brannan said.

When users turn on notifications for the application, they are notified whenever they are near a Talking Trail site and are given the option to listen to its story.

The application serves a tourism purpose, drawing in casual travelers who, instead of passing through a town, may get drawn in to hear its history. That could lead to them stopping for dinner or even staying at a hotel for the night.

"At the end of the day, what matters most is the content is interesting and entertaining," Brannan said, so once people hear the stories they'll want to share them with others.

The company was contracted for 70 sites around Jamestown. They’re working on sites in the Northern Plains National Heritage Area along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, exploring the history of sites at Fort Rice, Huff Village and Fort Lincoln. They’ve had interest from groups in South Dakota’s Black Hills, as well as the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame and North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Brannan said they’ve also started on a “Great Voices of North Dakota” series, telling the story of prominent North Dakotans.

“It’s really starting to tumble now,” Brannan said of Talking Trail’s growth. With the upcoming launch of a mobile application, he expects to see increasing success.

Because it uses people’s cellphones, it helps keep costs down. Brannan said he's also seeking sponsorships to help cover production costs.

When Talking Trail started, Brannan thought of it in terms of historical sites, but he's recently thought of other avenues, including zoos. Talking Trail could make recordings of zookeepers talking about animals' personality traits, giving visitors a more in-depth experience.

Talking Trail has the potential to be a local tech and media employer, with an audio team, an application team and writers and researchers. They've even pulled in a local musician to score the tracks and they would like to expand into video.

"There’s a lot of opportunity," Brannan said.

"History made easy"

"Get Fit and Explore!"

-Jamestown Sun

Central Valley Health District has created a downtown health walk that uses the new Talking Trail project to encourage more local residents to participate in regular exercise while learning more about local history.

Get Fit & Explore is a 1.5-mile downtown walking route that is designed to be completed in 30 minutes, said Tami Dillman, finance director for Central Valley Health District.

"We wanted to make it an easy distance," Dillman said.

The walking route was possible with a $1,500 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Center for Rural Health, said Robin Iszler, unit administrator at Central Valley Health District. The grant is used to focus on improving quality of life and physical activity, she said.

In 2014 the grant was used to install a virtual trainer at James River Family Fitness Center in collaboration with Jamestown Regional Medical Center, she said. For 2016 she said the focus was on the outdoors, and the downtown health walk was inspired by similar projects in other cities and is also in collaboration with JRMC, she said.

"We learned about the Talking Trail project and partnered with Jamestown Tourism to see how we could incorporate our downtown route with some of those locations," Iszler said. "The hospital is a big partner and is looking for ways to increase walking in the community."


The Talking Trail is an audio tour of 70 heritage sites in Jamestown and the surrounding area. Each site has its own 2-minute audio story that is accessed via cellphone by calling (701) 712-9329 and entering a three-digit code followed by the pound key.

The health walk is a circular route that connects eight Talking Trail points from 2nd Street Northeast to 6th Street Southeast and 4th Avenue Southwest to 3rd Avenue Southeast. The walking points start with the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in the Jamestown Civic Center, and then goes to Hansen Arts Park, Franklin School, Klaus Park, St. James Basilica, the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse, Stutsman County Museum and concludes at Zonta Park.


There are route extension points that go beyond the health walk pointed out on the map, along with alternate routes. Other landmarks that are not on the Talking Trail are also listed on the Get Fit & Explore flier at www.chpstutsman.com.

"Ours is a community rich with history," said Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism. "We are thrilled to share those stories through this fitness route that features several points of Jamestown's Talking Trail."

"...Listen to the memories recollected of Travis Hafner and Darin Erstad as they reminisce about what it was like to play here as a kid..."

Talking Trail has 4 Talking Points at the Jack Brown Stadium in Jamestown, ND!


“It is our hope that people can come to places like Jack Brown Stadium and listen to the memories recollected of Travis Hafner and Darin Erstad as they reminisce about what it was like to play here as a kid,” Swedlund said. “In this same location, we hear about the famous Negro baseball leagues and their connections to Jamestown and North Dakota.”

"History Comes to Life on the Jamestown Talking Trail"

"Listen to true stories about Jamestown

Uncover the legends and lore of Jamestown, North Dakota in a way you’ll never experience in history books. Just follow the Jamestown Talking Trail, an interactive self-guided audio tour consisting of about 70 stops, where you can hear fascinating stories and first-hand interviews at historic sites and attractions across town.


You can time travel to the days when herds of majestic buffalo thundered across the open plains or when adventurous pioneers made their way West to start new lives in unsettled territory. This trail of “talking points” features stops throughout the community, each with a Talking Trail post marker that denotes the stop number and provides the telephone number visitors can call to hear stories right from their own cellphone.


Many of the talking points are located within Frontier Village, an Old West town assembled from original 1800s buildings, where you’ll find Wild West “shoot outs” and stagecoach and pony rides. Other trail talking points are scattered throughout downtown Jamestown, public parks, campgrounds and even in nearby Wimbledon.


Hear little-known tales about world famous Western storyteller and Jamestown native Louis L’Amour at the Alfred Dickey Public Library and the Historic Franklin School. Listen to stories from beloved sports stars, such as baseball legends Darin Erstad and Travis Hafner, when you stop by the talking point at the Jack Brown Stadium. Visit the talking point at the National Buffalo Museum, home to a live herd of buffalo, including a rare white buffalo named Dakota Miracle. At Jamestown Reservoir’s campground, hear campfire stories that will ignite your imagination. From the backstory of the World’s Largest Buffalo Monument to the hilarious calamities of 1800s gambler and gunslinger “Limpy Jack” Clayton, these stops along the Jamestown Talking Trail bring colorful characters and local history to life. 

Pick out your must-see stops along the Jamestown Talking Trail, and uncover the secret tales of the North Dakota prairie by calling in at 701-712-9329."

Talking Trail finishes 70 sites

After more than a year of work, the Talking Trail project is completed with 70 sites ready for use in the Jamestown area and at Wimbledon, according to Jamestown Tourism.

The Talking Trail project allows visitors to hear 2-minute audio stories about the specific locations or other community history by cellphone.

At a particular site, callers can dial (701) 712-9329, enter the three-digit code posted on a sign at the site, followed by the pound key to hear the story of that site. “It’s been a fantastic project and we are thrilled to finally be able to share it,” said Searle Swedlund, Jamestown Tourism executive director.

Twelve sites are located around the National Buffalo Museum. They tell the stories of the American bison, its near extinction and recovery, and its role in Native American culture. “Talking Trail is a great improvement to tourism in Jamestown and it especially helps make visits to the museum a richer experience for people when they have a little more interactivity with the objects that they are looking at,” said Ilana Xinos, National Buffalo Museum executive director.

"Talking Trail will help bring more visitors out to Wimbledon..."

“Talking Trail will just help bring more visitors out to Wimbledon to experience the story of the Midland Railroad and Peggy Lee in a little more depth,” said Mary Beth Orn, depot committee member. “We are just thrilled to help bring tourism out here to Wimbledon.” Orr is the voice on the Talking Trail recording for Wimbledon. She hopes the recordings will encourage people who dial in remotely to visit the museum.


Some of the stories are not specifically tied to a landmark. These sites are labeled “stories around a campfire” and are located at two campgrounds.


Swedlund said Jack Brown Stadium was selected for the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday as an example of how Talking Trail helps people learn more about the significant but lesser-known heritage of the community.


“It is our hope that people can come to places like Jack Brown Stadium and listen to the memories recollected of Travis Hafner and Darin Erstad as they reminisce about what it was like to play here as a kid,” Swedlund said. “In this same location, we hear about the famous Negro baseball leagues and their connections to Jamestown and North Dakota.”


Talking Trail could not have succeeded without the work of local historians such as Keith Norman, Mary Young, Charlie Kourajian, Bruce Berg and others who have helped preserve the past, Swedlund said. The stories they have preserved can now be accessible to anyone with a cellphone.


“As a community we are blessed to have amateur historians -- guardians of the past -- collecting and archiving history for generations to enjoy and appreciate,” he said. The next phase will be to identify more sites by having people step forward with stories and locations to consider, Swedlund said.

© 2019 Talking Trail LLC.

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon