E-News April 2nd, 2021

OCTA’s Newest YouTube Video:
Yuma Crossing 

OCTA’s newest offering on our YouTube Channel on the Yuma Crossing debuts today. Join Tina Clark, archaeologist and historian of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage, as she guides you around Yuma to learn about the Anza expedition, the Mormon Battalion, 49ers, Ft. Yuma, the Butterfield, railroads, local Indians, and even the infamous Yuma Territorial Prison. Be sure to subscribe to our channel so that you get instant alerts the second our videos go live. Once we reach 1,000 subscribers, YouTube will share with OCTA the ad revenue generated by our channel.

Stay tuned every Friday as we continue to roll out all of the videos we filmed over the past year. Our schedule of release is as follows:

Friday, April 9: Lone Elm Campground in Olathe, Kansas
Friday, April 16: The Butterfield Overland Stage and the Southern Route through Arizona
Friday, April 23: St. Joseph, Missouri: King of the Trails
Friday, April 30: The Oatman Massacre and the Girl with the Blue Tattoo
Friday, May 7: Painted Rock Petroglyph Site
Friday, May 14: Butterfield Pass and the Maricopa Mountains

On National Trails Day, which is Saturday, June 5, we plan to debut a video about Lexington, Missouri and its long history as a campsite of Lewis & Clark, a stop on the Santa Fe Trail, the headquarters of famed freighters and Pony Express founders Russell, Majors, & Waddell, and site of the Saluda steamboat disaster that killed 125 Mormon emigrants and 49ers. This video concludes with the famous 1861 Battle of Lexington and Jesse James’ daring 1866 bank robbery there.

We thought it would be fitting to debut the final video in this inaugural series by featuring a town that touches on the six National Historic Trails on National Trails Day: the Oregon, California, Santa Fe, Mormon Pioneer, Pony Express, and Lewis & Clark National Historic Trails all have their histories wrapped up in this one obscure small town on the Missouri River.

This final video will also wrap up the work we did with our former intern, Sam Sullivan, who filmed and edited these videos with Association Manager Travis Boley producing and directing (and occasionally appearing). Lexington, Missouri is, as you will learn about on June 5, our Association Manager’s hometown as well.

Also, stay tuned for future videos. We recently won a grant to film this summer at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield outside of Springfield, Missouri to look at the role that the Butterfield Overland played in that battle. OCTA members from southern California are looking to complete a video on the route of the Mormon Battalion and Butterfield Overland through Anza Borrego State Park and the surrounding area in San Diego County.

We are also waiting to hear if we won another grant that would allow us to create a 30-minute documentary for PBS that will look at the history of wagons and stagecoaches as well as the modern-day person who keeps the craft of their construction alive. We hope to land a new intern very soon who has many of the same skills that our previous intern possessed so that we can continue this series over the next year. If your chapter has an interesting story to share, please let us know so we can start planning on how to capture it for our YouTube Channel. 


Complete List of OCTA’s YouTube Videos

Click on any link below to watch the 16 YouTube videos that OCTA has produced so far. Be sure to subscribe! Once we reach 1,000 subscribers we will start earning ad revenue from our channel. Enjoy and share!


The Donner Party:
A Tragedy in Snow and Stone

On April 7th, University of Nevada, Reno Assistant Professor of History Sarah Keyes will present “The Donner Party: A Tragedy in Snow and Stone.” In her talk, she will argue that The Donner Party looms large in the American psyche for the wrong reasons and suggests a new way of understanding this pivotal event.

Sarah Keyes is an assistant professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno. She earned her B.A. from Pomona College and her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. Her research has been supported by numerous institutions, including the American Council for the Learned Societies, the Huntington Library, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Keyes is currently completing her first book, American Burial Ground: A New History of the Overland Trail which will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

The talk will be about 25 minutes with 20 minutes or so of Q&A. Pre-registration is required. You can register here at the University of Nevada-Reno website.


RVs on the Oregon Trail

This summer, a large group of RVs will travel the entirety of the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. They are able to accommodate 20 RVs in their caravan but have a waiting list of 50 others who would like to go. Everyone on the trip is a newly minted member of the Oregon-California Trails Association, so if you see them stopped at one of dozens of sites along the trail this summer, be sure to stop and say hello! You can learn more about their trek this summer by reading their newsletter. We will provide updates in future issues of the E-News so you know where they’re going and when they’ll arrive.


Survey 123 Results for Kansas City Area

We’ve reported in the past several editions of E-News about the new Survey123 app designed by the National Park Service for volunteers to use on their smart phones to collect data about any existing signs or interpretive exhibits found along the trails. Our Trails Head Chapter is thrilled to announce that they have now documented the vast majority of exhibits found in the Kansas City area. As you can see, there’s a lot to see in KC! Join them and download the app now so you can interact with the trail in a new way this spring. Please refer to earlier editions of E-News to learn how to download the app or contact Brian Deaton with the National Park Service for more information. Contact him at brian_deaton@nps.gov.


Sutter’s Fort is Now Re-Opened

Park update: Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park re-opened on April 1. They put out a message yesterday that read:

While we look forward to seeing you all again, there are some updates to maintain public health and safety. Your visit will look different than it did before, and we are here with some tips for planning your next visit.

Please keep the following in mind when planning a visit to the museum/historic site:

• Masks are required to enter
• Please keep 6 feet apart from those outside your household
• Follow path indicated by staff
• Groups no larger than 6 allowed at a time
• Delayed entry between groups

If you or anyone in your household are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please postpone your visit until everyone is feeling better.

Call the Kiosk at 916-445-4422 with any additional questions.


Symphony in the Flint Hills

Organizers are anxiously counting down the days to the triumphant return of the 2021 Symphony in the Flint Hills Signature Event! Here are the latest updates regarding the event and tips for planning your special day in the Flint Hills. Join them at their “Home on the Range” on June 12, 2021 in Morris County, Kansas!

Tickets are still available for this year’s Signature Event! Tickets for adults are $95 and children (12 and under) are $50 plus taxes and fees. Get yours today.

A limited number of patron packages and sponsorship opportunities remain. Purchase by April 1 for program listing. Call 620-273-8955.
The 2021 Signature Event will return to North Lakeview Pasture where the annual event was held in 2008. The site is approximately one mile south of historic Council Grove on Flint Hills Scenic Byway K-177 Highway in Morris County, Kansas. Download the map here.


Emigrant History of Wyoming’s Red Desert

The weathered ruts of the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails mark the northern edge of Wyoming’s Red Desert. An estimated 500,000 people made the overland journey to the western territories between the 1830s and 1912, when the last documented wagon train crossed South Pass.

In partnership with Citizens for the Red Desert, Todd Guenther will discuss the emigrant history of the Red Desert and the significance of the Great Migration. Guenther brings a passion for anthropology and a wealth of experience. He has worked for the Office of the Wyoming State Archaeologist, served as curator for South Pass City State Historic site, and was the director at Lander Pioneer Museum. He’s currently a professor at Central Wyoming College, where he has taught for more than 12 years.

Bring your questions, grab your lunch, and join them on Zoom on Wednesday, April 7 at Noon (Mountain). Register for the event here.

Also mark your calendar for May 5, when guest presenters from Citizens for the Red Desert will share the Native American history of this same landscape.


Northwest Chapter Set to Host Zoom
Board Meeting on Saturday, April 17

Please join our Northwest Chapter on Saturday, April 17th for a General Chapter Meeting on Zoom. They want to meet as many members as possible so that they can inform you of their plans for Trail Tours; the OCTA Convention in Elko; the need for people to help install T-Rail signs; and to answer any questions you might have about the Chapter and the Trails.

They have three short programs to be presented during the meeting:

  • Roger Blair – “Advertising the Trail)”
  • Dave Welch – “Mapping and Marking the Trails”
  • Robin Baker – “The Eastern Side of the Barlow Road”

The meeting will be from 1:30 t0 3:30 PM (Pacific). Please email chapter president Sallie Riehl at salliek@comcast.net for information on how to join the Zoom meeting.


Fort Laramie Virtual Writing
Festival Set for April 12

During the upcoming Fort Laramie Virtual Writing Festival, students, teachers, and classrooms will have a chance to be inspired by the marks left and memories formed by travelers and observers of the great emigration to California, the Oregon Country, and Deseret.

Whether a few or dozens of years later, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, turned their memories into memoirs, interviews, and articles. Unfortunately, it is impossible to fit all of those recollections in a 40-minute session or even dozens of social media posts. But here is one that gives an idea of their wide experience:

In 1860, Mary Ann Stucki, a six year-old Swiss and Mormon emigrant, walked with her family from modern-day Omaha to Salt Lake City and then to southern Utah. Over seventy years later, she published a narrative of her life. Her memoir and memories of that childhood journey were shaped by a devout and full-life lived in those dry lands:

“Even when it rained the company did stop traveling. A cover on the handcart shielded the two younger children. The rest of us found it more comfortable moving than standing still in the drizzle. In fording streams the men often carried the children and weaker women across on their backs. The company stopped over on Sundays for rest, and meetings were held for spiritual comfort and guidance. At night, when the handcarts were drawn up in a circle and the fires were lighted, the camp looked quite happy. Singing, music, and speeches by the leaders cheered everyone. I remember that we stopped one night at an old Indian camp ground. There were many bright-colored beads in the ant hills.

At times we met or were passed by the overland stage coach with its passengers and mail bags drawn by four fine horses. When the Pony Express dashed past it seemed almost like the wind racing over the prairie.”

How will you recall your story starting April 12?

Register at: http://ow.ly/XqwA50E3OR0


True West Magazine’s Next Issue to Feature America’s Historic Trails

For 65 years, True West magazine has inspired travelers to take the road less traveled and explore the historic sites and towns of the American West. Now, in honor of its 65th anniversary, the publishers of True West have compiled the 3rd Edition of this essential Old West guidebook, which takes the traveler to where Old West history happened in 22 Western states. NEWLY ADDED: America’s Historic Trails!
Included in the True West Ultimate Historic Travel Guide

  • “Walk Where History Happened”: Hundreds of places expertly and succinctly described to inspire and guide your tour of the West
  • NEWLY ADDED: America’s Historic Trails
  • Dozens of historic and color photos of Western historic sites
  • 22-colorfully, illustrated state maps
  • Easy-to-use listings with addresses, phone numbers and websites
  • Eight of the best Bob Boze Bell’s Classic Gunfights of the Old West
  • True West’s favorite National and State Parks, Monuments, Battlefields, Sites, Memorials where Old West history happened.\

We like to help our friends, and True West is a true friend to OCTA. They helped sponsor our Yuma Symposium last year and provided all attendees with a copy on their new issue on Olive Oatman and her time in Arizona. Look for the OCTA ad in this issue, which you can order here.


OCTA Needs Your Input on a Short Elko Convention and Membership Survey

OCTA is set to hold its annual convention in Elko, Nevada from September 13-16. Our contract stipulates that we need to make a final decision on whether or not to hold it by 90 days out. Please take our short survey so that we can assess the membership’s desire to attend a convention if it were held. You can take the survey at this link.


A tax break for retirees is back.
Here’s how to use it — and what to avoid

This tax break is a fringe benefit of getting old. It lets some in their 70s use a tax strategy that got canceled for 2020 because of COVID but is now back with us.

The qualified charitable distribution (QCD) allows individual retirement account holders to divert some of their federally taxable required distributions to charity. That lets the IRA holders make donations and reduce their federally taxable income — while still letting them take the standard deduction on their federal tax returns.

OCTA is still accepting donations for its year-end appeal, and a QCD might be a way to both help OCTA and your own bottom line. Some members are even donating a portion of their stimulus checks, so thank you to those who called this week and did so! Read more about QCDs at this article from the Washington Post and consult your tax adviser on how to properly utilize this benefit.

Order Fresh Coffee and Help
OCTA’s Bottom Line

OCTA member Richard Gibson reached out to us with a review of the coffee. He wrote:

“I wanted to say to the group and to the KC ROASTERS that I am thoroughly enjoying my OREGON TRAIL ROAST BLEND COFFEE. It is mellow but full of flavor and is easy to warm back up or drink when cold! Great Idea for whomever came up with this promotion for OCTA! THANKS. I still have another package unopened!”

OCTA Board Member Jean Coupal-Smith added:

“This is a wonderful brew! I love the rich, bold flavor, even though its medium roast and I usually drink dark roast. I rate it up there at the top with my favorite Starbucks blend of Cafe Verona. It is very smooth.”

We concur whole-heartedly with Richard and Jean, though this E-News editor is of the opinion that the Butterfield Bean Medium Roast is slightly better than the wonderful Oregon Trail Medium Roast Blend. We remain excited that KC Coffee Roasters created two specialty coffees with 10% of every purchase being donated to the Oregon-California Trails Association. They are currently featuring Oregon Trail and Butterfield Bean blends. Visit their website at https://www.kccoffeeroasters.com/order-online to order now.