In this issue

  • OCTA President John Briggs Appoints Gina Sifers to Head OCTA's Marketing/PR Committee
  • Submit Your Volunteer Hours
  • The 2022 Event schedule for the Puyallup Historical Society at the Meeker Mansion
  • Spring Activities for OCTA's Idaho Chapter
  • Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter Zoom Talk on May 14
  • Oregon Trail Ruts Tour at the Umatilla Army Depot on May 20
  • 2022 OCTA Oregon Trail Exploration from Emigrant Springs to Deadman Pass in Oregon from May 24-26
  • Voices of the Golden Ghost Performance and Book Launch, Redding, CA, June 4
  • Mormon Battalion Symposium, Stansbury Park, UT, July 21-24
  • Mormon Pioneer Trail Symposium, August 18-19, 2022, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Registration information coming soon)
  • Casper Convention, August 28 - September 3, 2022 (Information coming soon)
  • 2022 National Trails Workshop in Albuqurque - Save the Date for November 2–4, 2022
  • OCTA's 41st Annual Convention at Gering, Nebraska - Save the Date for July 25-29, 2023
Books & Publications
  • Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association April Newsletter
  • Crossing Octave Chanute's Kansas City Bridge for Trains and Teams, 1867-1917
  • Go West, Young Man: A Father and Son Rediscover America on the Oregon Trail
  • Order Fresh Coffee and Help OCTA's Bottom Line

OCTA President John Briggs Appoints Gina Sifers
to Chair OCTA's Marketing/PR Committee

Gina Sifers is originally from Mission, Kansas and she and her husband Keith currently reside in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Gina realized at an early age of 8 years old that information technology would be her path in life after she had the opportunity to learn to read through the first computers that were offered to students in 1980 in Roeland Park, Kansas. Technology and marketing continue to be her passion and life’s work to this day.

Gina launched her first technology software training, computer diagnostic troubleshooting/repair and website development business in 2000 while studying in college and named the business Computer Empowerment Company. The next year she completed her degree in Computer Science and Information Systems with a Business Emphasis. Gina continued her business and at the same time, she worked in the non-profit sector for the United Methodist Church and then the Northwest Area Christian Church to utilize her skills to help others. She also volunteered in the youth ministries and choir program for the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ for many years.

In 2003, she and her family moved from their hometown of 15 years, and she decided to resolve the business and work in the corporate world to expand her knowledge in the sales arena through a local Yellow Pages company in Kearney, MO. In her 8.5 years in sales and marketing, she won many awards and trips for being one of the top sales producers. In Gina’s 20+ years of experience she has continued to study computer science and various technologies to stay up to date with the ever-changing technological landscape.

In 2013, she founded Bella Media Services, LLC.  She and her team of dedicated web development and marketing professionals have successfully served over 500 clients across a wide range of industries in the United States. Offering a variety of services, including consulting, responsive website/ecommerce design/development, SaaS, Cloud technologies, SEO/SEM, social media management and producing marketing/advertising creatives. 

Additionally, she is a proud member of OCTA since 2016. Gina won an award for her work on the website design and development of the OCTA Trails Head Chapter website. She and her team also redesigned and developed the website in 2017. They continue to make additions and upgrades to and She and her team also efficiently manage and maintain both sites by conducting regular backups, applying updates, and monitoring security. Gina also built sites for the Utah Crossroads Chapter and St. Joseph Gateway Chapter.

Through Bella Media Services Gina has provided OCTA search engine optimization services since 2019. Gina also volunteers part of her time in consulting, site updates, and monitoring trail markers and exhibits.

In 2020, she set up the Google Ads platform and created the initial 9 ads/multiple extensions, demographic, and geographic targeting for the Google Ads program for OCTA and helped Association Manager Travis Boley apply and win a $10,000/month in-kind Google Ads grant for OCTA.

Gina is excited to embark as OCTA marketing chairperson and work with such a passionate and devoted marketing committee to advance the mission, vision, and goals of OCTA.

Lastly, Gina, also loves to spend her leisure time outdoors, hiking the trails, swimming, bicycling, boating, fishing, and planting flowers. Much of that time is spent with her family, including, her dedicated husband of 35 years, two beloved daughters, Jade and Jodi, and beloved granddaughter, Bella. Thus comes her inspiration for the name of her company. 


Please Continue to Report
Your Volunteer Hours!!!!

Please continue to turn in your volunteer hours, mileage, expenses paid by you and not reimbursed, time traveling to meetings (including the San Diego Symposium), research, etc. We are attempting to collect data on an ongoing basis throughout the year to present the most accurate picture of all of the incredible work done by our huge team of advocates.

To submit hours, visit our online volunteer hour reporting portal for a simple, fast way to share your hard work with our federal agency partners and budget planners in Congress. Your volunteer hours are matched with appropriations and the Volunteers in Parks program to the financial benefit of our trails. Please report all you have done! It's the most important thing we do!



Spring Activities for OCTA's Idaho Chapter

Following is message from Idaho Chapter President Jerry Eichhorst, who has developed a list of the upcoming chapter activities for this spring:

The byway tour will be in a couple of weeks. We will again have some great activities around City of Rocks on Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13, with the spring chapter meeting in Burley on Saturday, May 14. I recommend the Fairfield Inn if you are interested in staying in Burley. We always have good group dinners on Thursday and Friday nights at local restaurants in Burley.

A new activity just came together last weekend. We will be checking a couple of graves near Durkee, Oregon, on Saturday, May 21, with the three cadaver dogs which worked with us last year at City of Rocks.

The details are still being worked out on several activities for later in the year. We are planning to explore the Jeffreys Route sometime in June or July.

The OCTA convention is August 28 - September 2. I am looking to arrange another cadaver dog search just before the convention in western Wyoming with the Wyoming BLM. I figured it could be done on the way to the convention to save on driving and hotel costs.

I am also looking to do another tour of the Oregon Trail from Fort Boise to Vale and on to Huntington in mid to late September. We have not done that in several years. I recently heard that there are emigrant inscriptions on some rocks along the trail near Love Reservoir for which I would like to look.

Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter Zoom Event

May 14: The Great Western Sugar Company Presentation by Sharon Danhauer
Founded in the early 20th century by Charles Boettcher and partners, the company pioneered the sugar beet industry that drove the economy of Northeastern Colorado for a century. Sharon, a chapter board member, is also a board member of the Loveland Historical Society and is involved in its fundraising campaign to save the company's two depots. Sharon will also provide an update on the Loveland Historical Society's Mariano Medina Family Cemetery project which the Colorado-Cherokee Trail chapter has helped to support.  
Zoom link:
  • 1:oo Pacific
  • 2:00 Mountain
  • 3:00 Central
  • 4:00 Eastern

Recording of April 9 event:
If you missed the April event, "Starting an OCTA Field Team from Scratch: Lessons and Tools Used in the Northern Colorado Cherokee Trail Project," and would like to view the recording, please contact Camille Bradford,, for the link.

Oregon Trail Ruts Tour at the Umatilla Army Depot

There is an outing being offered Friday, May 20 to go out to the Umatilla Army Depot near Hermiston, OR to see and hike trail ruts in a couple of different locations. The depot will soon be handed over to different entities as the decommissioning winds down. The eastern corner of the Depot is slated for industrial development and the ruts will be lost, so this is a last chance to see them. The outing will begin at 10 am and last most of the day.
If you're interested or have questions, contact Jenny Miller at
Please let Jenny know by May 9th and she will send out a separate email to just those interested. As a heads up, you will need to provide your driver's license number and your name as it appears on your license in advance for security clearance purposes. That information can be sent later once Jenny knows who is interested in attending.

The 2022 Event Schedule for the
Puyallup Historical Society at the Meeker Mansion 


​May 22nd       MEEKER MANSION CELLAR TO ATTIC TOURS: Noon to 4pm​


​June 17-19      MEEKER DAYS - Puyallup Main Street Association




​October 8th     MEEKER CIDER SQUEEZE & OREGON TRAIL: 10am to 3pm


​November 26th    CHRISTMAS AT THE MEEKER MANSION:  Noon to 4pm through end of year

Oregon Trail Exploration From Emigrant Springs
to Deadman Pass in Oregon

Robin Baker will be leading an exploration of the Oregon Trail from Emigrant Springs to Deadman Pass. The location is between LaGrande and Pendleton, OR. Please coordinate your participation with Robin Baker at

The dates are May 24, 25, and 26, with May 23 for travel to Emigrant Springs State Park. Arrangements have been made for camping at the park using the community building, although it is possible to drive from Pendleton each day if you prefer.

The task is to discover and record remnants of the Oregon Trail and sort them out from other roads traversing the area. Park employee Mark Miller has noted that very few people have been to the area in the past 150 years. The ground is uneven and heavily brush-covered but does not require extensive up and down hill walks. Typically, about two or three miles will be surveyed each day. Robin will provide training on what we are looking for. Tracks will be recorded with GPS readings and photos.

One opening is for a driver to provide shuttle service to study sites as needed. A vehicle with a capacity of six or seven is preferred. Please contact Robin Baker at if you are interested in participating.

Voices of the Golden Ghost
Performance and Book Launch
Redding, CA, June 4

Live Action Oregon Trail Game
Independence, Missouri
June 4


Will you survive the trail? Or die of dysentery? Test your luck at the Live Action Oregon Trail game! We are partnering with the National Frontier Trails Museum to provide you with a pioneer history filled day.

Teams of four will see if they have what it takes to survive the Oregon Trail. There are multiple stops along the way with games, trivia, and relay races. Teams will pack their wagon, "hunt" wild game, forge rivers, and much more! Each team has the chance to win points at each stop.

From 10am-1pm, the trail is reserved for the "slow and steady pace." This is perfect for families and young children. 1pm-4pm is reserved for the "grueling pace." Great for the more competitive Oregon Trail player.


Best Group Costume

Best Group Team Name

Best Wagon Design

Best Ill-Fated Member

Winner for Slow Pace | Winner for Grueling Pace

It is $35 to register a team of FOUR people. (NOT $35 per person!) Simply register for one ticket, when you check out, you will be prompted for a team name. Children are welcome, but they must have at least one adult on their team. Children 5 and under are not counted as "team members," but they are welcome to participate with their family.

Objective: To reach Oregon after successfully meeting all the challenges marked on your map. The location of each challenge is marked with a star on your map. You will earn points on your travels.

Points: At each of the challenges, you will receive points showing you finished each challenge. *Judge’s decisions are final, and no, they will not take bribes.

There is no set route for the Live Action Oregon Trail; feel free to complete challenges in any order.

Ending: Once you have completed all the challenges on your map, please bring to the check-in table for a chance to win fabulous prizes. Winners will be notified the following week.


Mormon Battalion Symposium
Stansbury Park, Utah
July 21-24

Mormon Ba

Save the Dates! 40th Anniversary for the 
2022 OCTA convention slated for Casper

The Oregon-California Trails Association and the Wyoming Chapter of OCTA will hold OCTA’s 40th annual convention, “Leaving the Platte,” in Casper, Wyo., August 28-September 2, 2022.

The conference will include two full days of talks and presentations, and two full days of bus tours to trail sites east and west of Casper on the Oregon/California/Mormon trails—and north of Casper on the Bozeman Trail.

We also plan a private-vehicle trek pre-conference from grave sites near Fort Laramie to Register Cliff and the Guernsey ruts, and a pair of post-conference, private-vehicle treks to South Pass—one up the Seminoe Cutoff and the other over Rocky Ridge.

Speakers will include keynoter and historian Todd Guenther on the history and meaning of South Pass; Camille Bradford on the huge Oregon Trail centennial gathering at Independence Rock in 1930 organized by her stepfather, Howard Driggs; Clint Gilchrist of the Mountain Man Museum in Pinedale, Wyo., on the fur trade and its connections to the historic trails; a panel on collaborations between the Bureau of Land Management and the LDS Church on management and interpretation of the trails along the Martin’s Cove-South Pass corridor; sessions on the turbulent history and current-day preservation of the Bozeman Trail, which ran north from the North Platte to the gold fields of Montana—and much more.

Activities will include demonstrations by famed South Dakota wheelwright and wagon maker Doug Hansen and a mochila exchange by Pony Express riders.

Other events will include a banquet, a barbecue, an auction, raffle, book room and an authors’ night. Conference headquarters will be the Ramkota Inn in Casper. Registration materials will be sent out in April 

Wyoming has some of the longest and best-preserved trails, swales and pioneer grave sites in the nation. See you in 2022!

Click for much more information on Wyoming’s trails. We will visit many of these sites during the conference.
OCTA Announces Gering, Nebraska as
Host of Its 2023 Convention

Independence, Missouri – The Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA) announces that its Board of Directors has unanimously selected Gering, Nebraska as the site for its 41st Annual Convention. The convention is slated to get underway on Tuesday, July 25 and conclude on Saturday, July 29. Next year’s theme is “We Do Old in a New Way” in a nod to the new facilities at Scotts Bluff National Monument, the Chimney Rock Museum, and the Legacy of the Plains Museum. If you think you’ve already seen what western Nebraska has to offer, you’re in for a great surprise, with numerous new exhibits in brand new facilities that help to better tell the story of the 19th century trails of the American West.
The Gering Convention Center will be convention headquarters, with many other activities slated to occur at local landmarks, historic sites, and other facilities. OCTA is partnering with the Gering Visitors Bureau, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Legacy of the Plains Museum, and the Chimney Rock Museum to stage this week-long event. Other partners are still being sought as well.
The convention will feature an array of activities, including day-long guided tours to historic trail sites in both Nebraska and Wyoming; two days of speakers featuring a diverse array of topics that will include not only the Oregon and California National Historic Trails, but also the Pony Express and Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trails, the histories of regional American Indian nations; workshops that may focus on things like the importance of quilts in telling the story of the trails, historic 19th century gun collections, and utilizing trail diaries to conduct genealogical research; evening events that will include a presentation about the trail art of William Henry Jackson at Scotts Bluff National Monument, an awards banquet, a silent and live auction, a closing event at the Legacy of the Plains Museum that will feature a chuckwagon grilled steak dinner, and even a potential concert at the Five Rocks Amphitheater.
Gering last hosted the convention in 2007. Scottsbluff hosted in 1985. Every year, the convention moves to a new site, with Casper, Wyoming hosting this year. Elko, Nevada hosted in 2021. The planning committee is in the early stages of charting out the events and speakers for the week, so stay tuned for future announcements about hotels, travel arrangements, meals, speakers, and tours, among other things. Registration materials will be ready in March 2023 and the general public is invited to all events. Be sure to mark your calendar for July 25-29, 2023, to help us “do old in a new way” in Gering, Nebraska!

Books & Publications

Kansas City Area Historic Trails
Association April Newsletter

Crossing Octave Chanute's Kansas City Bridge
for Trains and Teams, 1867-1917

Go West, Young Man: A Father
and Son Rediscover America
on the Oregon Trail

At the sound of the bell on the last day of kindergarten, B.J. Hollars and his six-year-old son, Henry, hop in the car to strike out on a 2,500-mile road trip retracing the Oregon Trail. Their mission: to rediscover America, and Americans, along the way. Throughout their two-week adventure, they endure the usual setbacks (car trouble, inclement weather, and father-son fatigue), but their most compelling drama involves people, privilege, and their attempt to find common ground in an all-too-fractured country.

Writing in the footsteps of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Hollars picks up the trail with his son more than half a century later. Together they sidle up to a stool at every truck stop, camp by every creek, and roam the West. They encounter not only the beauty and heartbreak of America, but also the beauty and heartbreak of a father and son eager to make the most of their time together. From Chimney Rock to Independence Rock to the rocky coast of Oregon, they learn and relearn the devastating truth of America’s exploitative past, as well as their role within it.

Go West, Young Man recounts the author’s effort to teach his son the difficult realities of our nation’s founding while also reaffirming his faith in America today. It also features extensive interviews with OCTA Past President Duane Iles, the Historic Inscriptions on Emigrant Trails and Graves and Sites on the Oregon and California Trails author Randy Brown, and OCTA Association Manager Travis Boley, among others

You can
order your own copy of the book on OCTA's website for only $19.95. It would make an excellent Christmas gift!


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 to order now.

And an extra special thank you to Idaho Chapter President Jerry Eichhorst, whose keen eye discovered this ad from a 1929 issue of the Idaho Statesman!
Copyright © 2022 Oregon-California Trails Association, All rights reserved.

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