Register for the 2021 National Convention

Fill out the online registration form to save your spot.

Get a $10 discount if you register on or before August 31st. We are sorry to report that the California Trail Highlights pre-convention tour is already sold out.

Photo by  Jordan Thomas

Give me the convention details

Where: Elko, Nevada
When: September 13th-16th
Speakers: 13
Tours: 9 (vaccine required)
We are featuring the most diverse group of speakers we have ever had, and there are numerous new tours that will showcase pristine sections of trail all over northeast Nevada.
Learn more about the convention and register by clicking on the blue "Convention Website" button below.
Want to register by mail? Paper forms are being sent out, but you'll still want to check out the convention website for full details on tours and speakers.
Convention Website

In this issue

  • Idaho Chapter President Jerry Eichhorst Wins Idaho State Historical Society Award
  • Curtis Allred Bench, 1952-2021
  • Service Times Set for Tom McCutcheon
  • New Board Guidelines Regarding Proof of Vaccination at Elko Convention
  • Convention Updates for Raffle/Auction and the End of the Trail Banquet
  • Convention Apparel Now Available on OCTA's Website
  • Greenhorn Hike Now Offered at the Elko Convention
  • Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter Zoom Presentations for Summer and Autumn 2021
  • Trails Head Chapter to Co-Sponsor Bus Tour Along the Santa Fe Trail in Missouri, September 3
  • Santa Fe Trail Celebration at Kansas City's Trailside Center, September 18
  • Gateway Chapter Bus Tour of Kansas City Trail Sites Set for October 2
  • Partnership for the National Trails System Historic Trails Virtual Workshop, November 1-4
  • Third Thursday History with the Southern Trails Chapter
Books & Publications
  • New Jim Bridger Book Now Available!
  • OCTA Partners with the Kansas City Royals on a Fundraiser
  • Order Fresh Coffee and Help OCTA's Bottom Line

Idaho Chapter President Jerry Eichhorst Wins Idaho State Historical Society Award

Each year the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) grants its ‘Esto Perpetua’ Award to people and organizations who have promoted Idaho’s History through professional accomplishments, public service, volunteerism, or philanthropy. 'Esto Perpetua’ (Let it be perpetual) is the State motto for Idaho. Jerry Eichhorst, President of the Idaho Chapter of OCTA, was recognized for all the work he has done to preserve, research, and educate people on the Oregon and California Trails in Idaho. The award was presented on August 23rd at a banquet held in the newly expanded Idaho State Museum.  He is shown here with Idaho Governor Brad Little (extreme right), First Lady Teresa Little, and ISHS Board Trustee Ernest Hoidal (extreme left).

Curtis Allred Bench
1952 - 2021

Salt Lake City, UT - Our husband, father, grandfather, and brother passed away unexpectedly on August 17, 2021. Curtis Allred Bench was born on November 17, 1952, the son of Gordon and Verdon Bench in Los Angeles, California. Growing up, one of his favorite things to do was to read the dictionary. When friends would go to the beach to surf he'd take a book instead. He was definitely born with a "why" chromosome that lasted throughout his life. Curt served in the Alabama-Florida mission. This is where he began his LDS book collection. Curt worked for and later managed stores for Deseret Book and in 1984 he opened the rare book department there. In 1987, Curt opened his own store, Benchmark Books, which continues today and has become a gathering place for Mormons of all stripes. Curt envisioned a religion that included beliefs across the spectrum, a true "big tent" proponent.

Curt's wealth of knowledge and accomplishments are too numerous to count but he was passionate about words, books, limericks, humor and laughter, turquoise and especially people. He loved unconditionally and built bridges and offered his hand to any that struggled, with a listening ear and no judgment. We will miss him every time we look at a sunset, and miss his texts telling us to go look at the sky.

Curt graduated from BYU, where he met and fell in love with Patricia Gaffney Bench. They married and completed their eternal family with four children: son, Christopher Bench (Wendi), daughters, Brittany Poulton (George), Emily McLean (David), son, Landon Bench (Lex) and later came nine grandchildren with whom he was incredibly involved and devoted to: Rylie, Qhloi, Senator, Annapurna, Jasper, Eve, Poppy, Noah and Bliss. "Papa" will always be remembered for pushing them on the swing in the backyard, reading to and giving them an endless supply of books. They will miss coming through the door and having their Papa sneak up on them and giving them a big surprise. He encouraged his children to be educated and work hard. He often joked all of his children worked for him or at least were employed by him to help them earn their way through college.

Also survived by his brother Dennis G. Bench (Aileen) and his mother-in-law Betty Glad.

Curt was a member of the Utah Westerners, Mormon History Association, Sunstone Education Foundation, John Whitmer Historical Association, Utah Historical Society (Honorary Life Member) as well as his beloved Friday lunch group, The Latitudinarians.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, Ken and Al Bench and his father-in-law, Bruce D. Glad.


Published by Deseret News from Aug. 20 to Aug. 22, 2021 and Salt Lake Tribune Aug. 22, 2021


Beloved LDS bookseller Curt Bench dies — like the vintage volumes in his store, friends say, he was a treasure (


Celebration of Life

Aug, 24 2021

6:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.

East Millcreek Stake Center in conversation on Tuesday, August 24 at the East Millcreek Stake Center located at 3103 E. Craig Drive, from 6 to 8 p.m. and again on Wednesday, August 25 from 10:00 to 11:45 a.m. at the same address. Funeral services will be held at 12 p.m. A broadcast of the funeral can be viewed at Curt was a germaphobe so don't forget to wear your mask.

Service Times Set for Tom McCutcheon

Tom McCutcheon’s daughter, DeAnne (Autrey) called to inform OCTA HQ that a memorial service is planned October 8th in Rock Springs WY for her father. Service 10 AM (Honor Guard and Masonic Rites). Service to be held in the American Legion Post “Archie Hay” building, 843 Broadway, Rock Springs, WY.

Oct 12th Tom’s interment -  Green Leaf Cemetery, Green Leaf, Kansas (service conducted by Tom’s son, Don McCutcheon). Service time: 11 AM

Should you have questions: DeAnne’s phone: 307-922-3440 and email:

Vaccine Guidelines for Elko Convention
Two weeks ago, the OCTA board meet via an emergency Zoom meeting to discuss rising COVID cases in both Elko and nationwide. As most of our convention attendees are in the age group most impacted by the threat of COVID, the board voted unanimously to require proof of a COVID vaccination to attend the convention. Please either send a photocopy to OCTA HQ at: 524 S. Osage St., Independence, MO 64050, or email a photo of it to You can also show proof of vaccination at the convention check-in. We are striving to keep everyone safe and to still put on a great convention. Thank you for your understanding.

We will also be requiring masks for all indoor activities, whether in the convention center, on the tour buses, or other off-site facilities where OCTA convention activities are taking place. 

The language regarding the COVID motion from the board meeting minutes is as follows:


John Briggs moved, Pat Traffas seconded, that the Elko NV OCTA Convention will require that all attendees for all events be vaccinated for COVID-19, and have proof of that vaccination with them, or will have provided it in advance of the Convention.

Documentation of a negative COVID-19 test will not be acceptable.

The motion passed unanimously.

Convention Updates for Raffle/Auction
and the End of the Trail Banquet

For those who would like donate items for our raffle or auction, please send them to:

Duane Jones
582 Croydon Dr.
Spring Creek, NV 89815

Or, if you prefer, you can bring your items and deliver them at the convention. Please drop Duane a line at if this is your preference. 

Also, for those who want to wear trail-period clothing, please join us at the End of the Trail banquet on the final night of the convention attired in your finest trail items.

Apparel now up on OCTA's website!

If you registered for the convention before July 20th you may not have had an option to order apparel. You can still order apparel by going to the convention website and filling out the registration form again -- just don't sign up for any convention events. Only fill out required fields and the apparel items. We'll have them ready for you by the convention.
Alternatively, you can go to OCTA's online store and order your apparel there.

Elko Convention Apparel is Here!

Get your order in by August 15 to ensure your apparel is ready for pick up at the Elko convention! Check out the items you can order now on the convention website! You can place your order even if you've already registered for the museum. Remember, order by August 15 to ensure your items are ready for pick up in Elko at the beginning of the convention. See the convention website for pricing and sizes.

Greenhorn Cutoff Hike Now Offered at the Elko Convention

If you filled out your registration before Tuesday, August 3rd, the Greenhorn Cutoff Hike was not available to you to register for. If you would like to join this hike please contact Kathy Conway to let her know. ( The hike is on Tuesday, September 14th from 8 AM to 3 PM. If you registered for a bus tour on Tuesday and choose to go on the hike you will lose your spot on the Tuesday bus tour. Read more about the hike by clicking here.

Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter
Zoom Presentations for Summer
and Autumn 2021
Please join us for a visit with Colorado historian and author, Dr. Jeff Broome, tomorrow on Saturday, August 28th at 2 PM Mountain. A member of OCTA, Jeff is a leading historian on the subject of Indian wars and the author of four books on the Central Plains Indian war. 

His most recent book, Indian Raids and Massacres: Essays on the Central Plains Indian War, published in 2020, covered incidents in Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska from 1864-1870 and was the feature of one of our events last year.  

In this year's event, Jeff will delve further into the causes of the Sand Creek Massacre, describe the tragic events surrounding the capture and death of Clara Blinn and her son, and provide further insights into incidents described in his most recent book.  He will also share some fascinating "lessons learned" in the historical research he has undertaken over the past 26 years.

Learn how you can join this Zoom presentation here.

Trails Head Chapter to Co-Sponsor Bus Tour Along the Santa Fe Trail in Missouri

“Following William Becknell in September 1821:
The Osage Trace/Original Santa Fe Trail.”
Learn how to attend here.

Join the Trailside Center in  Kansas City for Their Santa Fe Trail Bicentennial Celebration

Gateway Chapter Bus Tour of Kansas City Trail Sites Set for October 2

The Gateway Chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA) is sponsoring a bus tour on Saturday, October 2 in the Kansas City area and will have plenty of room for people from the KC area to join with them on the tour.

OCTA Past President Ross Marshall will be leading the tour as you travel from Kaw Point (the juncture of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers) through the downtown Kansas City area over to Independence and along the Independence Route of the Santa Fe-Oregon-California Trail south to Red Bridge and over to I-35 and back to the downtown area and Kaw Point.

Attached are all the details of how to sign up and pay for your seat on the bus.

We will leave from Kaw Point at 9:30 and return there at about 4:00.

View all trip details here. 

Partnership for the National Trails System
Historic Trails Workshop Registration Now Live

Join the Partnership for their Historic Trails Workshop, November 1-4, 2021. Register at the link here

Third Thursday History
With the Southern Trails Chapter

Join the Southern Trails Chapter the third Thursday of every month on Zoom. A new speaker will present on a historical topic related to southern emigrant trails each month. Check out this month's event here.
Books & Publications

New Jim Bridger Book Now Available!

Even among iconic frontiersmen like John C. Fr mont, Kit Carson, and Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger stands out. A mountain man of the American West, straddling the fur trade era and the age of exploration, he lived the life legends are made of. His adventures are fit for remaking into the tall tales Bridger himself liked to tell.

Here, in a biography that finally gives this outsize character his due, Jerry Enzler takes this frontiersman's full measure for the first time. Read more and learn how to order the book here.

OCTA Partners with the
Kansas City Royals on Fundraiser

Whether you live in Kansas City, near Kansas City, or have plans to travel to Kansas City this year, if a Royals baseball game is on your to-do list, your ticket purchase has the potential to help OCTA's bottom line. OCTA is partnering with the Kansas City Royals to make tickets available to a select number of games, with OCTA receiving $5 from every lower level ticket sold and $2 from every upper level ticket sold. Simply visit and enter the promo code "OCTA" to ensure that all tickets sold are credited to us. 
Submission deadline: Friday, August 20th

OCTA needs your help with outreach on social media. Send us your favorite photos from visits on the trails with a caption of the places depicted. We’ll give you photo credit when we use your photos to accompany OCTA’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts. Your contribution will help OCTA grow its member base and promote awareness of our historic trails. You will also be included in a photo contest with prizes of free books, maps, and other OCTA goodies given out at OCTA's national convention next September in Elko, Nevada. Winners will be selected based on how many interactions each post gets.

Email your photos with a caption of where each was taken and include your full name.

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.
Copyright © 2021 Oregon-California Trails Association, All rights reserved.

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