E-News March 27, 2020

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E-News – 27 March 2020
Special Message From OCTA President Lee Black
Special Message from Immediate Past President Pat Traffas
Idaho Chapter Invites You to Enjoy Their March Newsletter
Southern Trails Chapter Invites You to Enjoy Their March Newsletter
Mount Hood National Forest Will Close All Trails and Day-Use Areas
Upgrade Your Membership Now For a Wonderful Gift!
Download Speaker Videos From Santa Fe Convention

A Special Message From 
OCTA President Lee Black
Greetings to you, our faithful members.

We recognize these are challenging days and many of you have uncertainties thanks to the economic and health impact of COVID-19. Our hope and prayer is that you are well and taking all necessary precautions advised by the CDC and your local health and governmental agencies. For those of us who enjoy outdoor activities, staying in our homes for extended periods is a significant challenge. Please take the situation seriously and we will all be stronger as this virus is overcome and our economy returns to normal.

On a positive note, I received a very encouraging call from our partners at the National Park Service. They wanted to reassure us that funding remains at committed levels for planned projects and other budget needs. Like some of you, they are all required to work from home. Their June Mapping meeting in Salt Lake City is on hold. More information will follow.
Now that we are sheltering in place, what to do?

This is a great time to reach out to those in your Chapter to insure that they are doing well. Encouraging one another is so important. Discover what Chapter activities interest each of you.

Are you tired of watching the constant medical and financial reports on cable news outlets or pointless programming? Now is an excellent time to view the many excellent presentations delivered at the Santa Fe Convention. Travis shared the names of presenters and their program titles in the recent E-News last Tuesday. It is so easy to access all the interesting content on YouTube. I would encourage you to invite friends to view the information as well. Doing so could lead to new membership in OCTA and fellow travelers on the trail.

Please remember, life is a special gift and we have so much to celebrate. Focus on good things including family and friends. Current medical and financial issues will improve. The future is bright when you dwell on the positive. We are so thankful for you, your words of encouragement, and your continued support of our OCTA staff and mission.

See you on the trail,

Lee Black
OCTA President

Special Message from Immediate 
Past President Pat Traffas

Looking back, and looking forward:

Much like 178 years ago this Spring, people were on the move. Whether it was a wagon train heading for Oregon Territory or persons traveling to Mardi Gras, college students packing for their much-anticipated Spring Break, military personnel either deploying or returning from their assignments, or business persons embarking on economic endeavors domestically or abroad, plans seemed to have been dashed overnight by an invisible enemy which we are all struggling to understand.

Here, at the beginning of the trail, families and companies gathered to outfit in Independence, and in coming years in Westport, Omaha, Council Bluffs, and St. Joseph. They had to wait for the first blades of spring grass to be abundant enough to provide nourishment for the horses, cattle, and oxen that would be their power source for the next six or so months. While waiting and gathering provisions and swapping plans and dreams, the emigrants were huddled together in these frontier communities, sharing space with livestock and common sources of water. Organized trains that departed early were the lucky ones, because they were often spared of contagion left behind. They, however, became the carriers of that contagion that would pose a real threat to those who would follow. In the 1800s, the invisible enemy was cholera….today it is the novel Coronavirus 19.

Unknown to most, there is a cholera cemetery in Independence, and likely this is the first vestige that remains of the killer cholera. We can track the passage of cholera westward easily, both on the ground by numerous graves and by the sorrowful diary accounts for the many, many miles of trail history. Wagon trains would often camp in the same spots as earlier ones because wood, grass and water were available. As cholera claimed lives along the trail, existing resources were taxed to meet the immediate needs….a wagonmaster was asked to find someone to look after a new widow and her family whose husband and father had succumbed, or a “wet mother” who could adopt a suckling infant who needed nourishment. No one could have imagined just how quickly their lives could be changed by something they could not see or foresee.

Don’t you suppose that even in the 1800s, most would have wanted to find someone or something to blame their sad state of affairs on? We are like that today. Modern science and improved mass communications spread information, false hopes and fears, and stories of those who are rising up to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are a realistic people, with dreams and visions for the future. We can practice social distancing which would have been a foreign concept in the 1800s. We can look after others, protect the most vulnerable, understand those with different ideas than ours, and not place blame where no blame is due. If we all do our part, we can survive this medical and economic crisis. We should all remember that water runs downhill, and that we all live “downstream.” I pray you will all remain safe in the days ahead.

Pat Traffas
Past President

Idaho Chapter Invites You to 
Enjoy Their March Newsletter
This newsletter includes highlights from the Yuma Symposium, an engaging article about the Jeffreys-Goodale Cutoff by Gary Makey, and diary excerpts that detail sections of trail in Idaho. Click here to read the Idaho newsletter now!

You can join any of our eleven chapters by visiting the  OCTA online store.

Southern Trails Chapter Invites You 
to  Enjoy Their March Newsletter  
On Tuesday, we sent out a link to the Southern Trails Chapter newsletter. We were having issues with document compression and we understand that some of you were unable to open the newsletter. We have solved the compression issues so you should have no problem opening it now.

This newsletter includes highlights from the Yuma Symposium, a trek in the Arizona desert with Gerald Ahnert, and a treasure trove of artifacts stored in an attic in Nogales. Click here to read the Southern Trails newsletter now!

You can join any of our eleven chapters by visiting the  OCTA online store.

Mount Hood National Forest Will Close 
All Trails and Day-Use Areas
The Mount Hood National Forest has joined other agencies by closing all recreation areas to the public amid the coronavirus outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday that all developed recreation sites on and around Mount Hood are now temporarily closed, abiding by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s order banning all nonessential travel.

Closures will affect all trailheads, sno-parks, day-use areas, campgrounds, fire lookouts and cabins within the national forest. The forest service will issue refunds to anyone who previously held reservations.

The closures will be in effect until at least May 8.

Upgrade Your Membership or Purchase a Gift Membership Now For a Wonderful Present!
For a limited time, OCTA is encouraging our existing members to “upgrade” their membership. This also makes an excellent gift and we’ll send those gifts to your recipient as a present from you. These free gifts include:

Simply call us at (816) 252-2276 and we will renew your membership at a higher level or simply extend your existing membership for another year past your next renewal date and ship out our “thank yous” immediately. Or, send it as a gift to a friend or family member. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity; it’s only while supplies last.


Finally, if you’re not already a member, join now at the Emigrant level ($50) and we will send you a copy of your choice of items listed above. Not only that, but as a new member you will get immediate access to every single issue of the Overland Journal dating back to 1982 as well as access to Paper Trail, our incredible genealogy tool that helps you search original trail diaries.
No where else will you find such a comprehensive archive of information related to 19th century western emigration trails. Join now and get immediate access to the nearly 40 years worth of the entertaining and informative Overland Journal! Seventy-eight people have upgraded their membership since we began this program. Won’t you become #79?

Download Speaker Videos
From Santa Fe Convention
If you weren’t able to attend the convention in Santa Fe last September, we recorded all of the speakers. If you attended the convention, you can view all of the videos for free by emailing kconway@indepmo.org  for the access code. If you didn’t attend the convention, you can purchase access for $10 per speaker or $60 for all 14 speakers. The  link for purchase  can be found  on our website . Many of us are locked away for weeks due to Coronavirus shut downs, so enjoy some time learning about Southwestern trails!
Speakers and topics include:
  • Doug Dinwiddie – Military Protection Along the Southern Trail
  • François-Marie Patorni – The French Presence in New Mexico
  • Kevin Henson – Cooke’s Wagon Road and Mormon Battalion Routes in New Mexico
  • David Miller – Randolph Marcy: Explorer, Road Builder, and Guide
  • Mark Howe – Archaelogy on New Mexico’s Southern Trail
  • Jim Hardee – Bartolomé Baca and the Trappers
  • Frank Norris – Railroad in Northern New Mexico
  • Larry Francell – J.B.D. Stillman, Civilian Post Surgeon at Fort Lancaster, Texas
  • Peter Leman – Mangas Coloradas
  • Prince McKenzie – Railroads Along the Southern Route
  • Tom Sutak – Traveling to the Gold Fields Along the Southern Route
  • Laura Anderson – Women, the Sick and Others Left Behind
  • Tom Jonas – Kearney’s Trail from Santa Fe to Arizona
  • Richard Melzer – Children on the Santa Fe Trail