In this issue

  • "Wagon Master: Hansen's Handcrafted History" Set to Premiere on Select PBS Stations
  • San Diego Symposium Presentation: "Tall Ships and Trails: Boston Trade Ships and Trade Trails" by Frank Tortorich
  • Elko Convention Presentation: "The Genesis of the Hastings Cutoff" by Peter Meyerhoff
  • Overland Journal Index
  • Laurel Hill and the Barlow Road Presentation
  • "First Year in Oregon, 1840-1869: A Narrative History" Now Available Online
  • Submit Your Volunteer Hours
  • The Mormon Battalion Association Presents "The Women Who Walked and Waited" on April 23
  • 2022 OCTA Southern Trails Chapter Symposium in Temecula, CA, April 25-27
  • California-Nevada Chapter Symposium in Anderson, CA, May 6-8
  • 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
  • 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
  • Northwest Trails Spring Newsletter
  • Oregon Trail Caravan Newsletter for April 2022
  • Go West, Young Man: A Father and Son Rediscover America on the Oregon Trail
  • Order Fresh Coffee and Help OCTA's Bottom Line

Wagon Master: Hansen's Hand-Crafted History 
Premieres on Select PBS Stations

They don’t make 'em like they used to. That is a phrase that Doug Hansen takes to heart. Doug has been custom building and restoring ox, mule, and horse-drawn vehicles from the 1800s and early 1900s since 1978. He and his team make everything from scratch, using many original 19th century hand tools and techniques that those who mastered this craft during the heyday of emigrant trails also used. It’s an intensive effort, from designing by eye, to shaping the wood, blacksmithing the iron, upholstering, painting, and detailing. A Concord Stagecoach takes 1200 hours to build, no small feat.

Wagon Master: Hansen’s Hand-Crafted History is a 25-minute profile about Doug and his business, his connection to 19th century culture and technology, and the vehicles that powered the era. The finished documentary premiered at a special event in downtown Mitchell on March 30th. VIP guests and the public attended the screening at 2 pm at the Luxury 5 Cinemas. A question-and-answer session followed the screening. 

It also debuted last night on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and we have received rave reviews all day long. If you missed last night's screening, it airs again on Sunday, April 24 at 1 PM Central. It did stream on SDPB's website last night but will not be streaming on Sunday. We will also have a special screening of this new documentary on the evening of Monday, August 29 at the Casper Convention and we are planning some online streaming events in the near future. We also plan to make it available on DVD this year.

OCTA is endeavoring to produce a series of documentary projects, educational videos, and social media content highlighting unique aspects of the historic trails, people, and events from 19th century American history. Wagon Master: Hansen’s Hand-Crafted History is the latest in a series of these projects.

OCTA's previous film, History and Change on the Old Spanish Trail, is also still showing on KVCR out of San Bernardino and the First Nations Experience Channel, and they're also airing Wagon Master
OCTA is now completing its next documentary, Wilson's Creek: History Along the Wire Road, a look at the wagon road from St. Louis to Ft. Smith that later became the route of the Butterfield Overland Stage before seeing two major Civil War battles fought along its course at Pea Ridge in Arkansas and Wilson's Creek in Missouri. We are in the final editing stages and expect to debut it later this summer.

San Diego Symposium Presentation: "Tall Ships and Trails: Boston Trade Ships and Trade Trails Before the Gold Rush" by Frank Tortorich

Back in January, OCTA partnered with the Mormon Battalion Association to bring you our Winter Symposium of 2022. Our intern, Charlie Dodge, filmed all of the presentations and has now edited them for your viewing pleasure. Over the next several months, we will bring you a new video. First up is OCTA's own Frank Tortorich, renowned historian of the trails of California. Please enjoy his presentation, "Tall Ships and Trails: Boston Trade Ships and the Trade Trails Before the Gold Rush."


Elko Convention Presentation: "The Genesis of the Hastings Cutoff" by Peter Meyerhoff

Last summer, we recorded all of the presentations at the Elko Convention. However, due to a camera malfunction, we missed some of Peter Meyerhoff's presentation. However, our intern Charlie Dodge was able to Zoom with Mr. Meyerhoff recently and capture the missing section of his talk. We are pleased to bring you "The Genesis of the Hastings Cutoff" in its entirety.

Overland Journal Index

Bob Clark, editor of the Overland Journal, recently updated the index for all issues dating back to 1983. He organized them in three different categories. Click on any of the below links to view:

Laurel Hill and the Barlow Road Presentation
At the chapter Zoom meeting earlier this month, Robin Baker presented a slide show explaining the work done over the past couple of years to verify the Laurel Hill chutes used by Barlow Road travelers.

Some people who missed the presentation wondered if the slide show could be made available online. Dave Welch and Robin have prepared the recording and it can be made available to you. Just drop Dave a note at and he will send you an invite from DropBox.

First Year in Oregon, 1840-1869:
A Narrative History

When dealing with events as significant as overland migration along the Oregon Trail, it is easy to focus on the broad outlines without delving deeper into the lived experiences of historical actors. In October 2021, the National Park Service, National Trails office (NTIR) received the “First Year in Oregon, 1840-1869: A Narrative History”—an attempt to explore what exactly awaited the thousands of emigrants who reached Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Where did new arrivals stay? What did they eat? Did Oregon meet their expectations? The full report, completed by a contractor, spans over 200 pages and addresses these questions and more. Notably, the study also highlights the effects of Oregon’s settlement on non-white communities, such as the Kalapuyan and Chinookan people eventually forced by the US government to leave the Willamette Valley.

After traversing the roughly 2,000-mile Oregon Trail, overlanders arrived at their destination: the fertile and rain-soaked Willamette Valley. The first year in Oregon presented challenges for new arrivals: Where would they sleep? What would they eat? Could they count on anyone to help them? How might they work to earn food, clothing, or money?

This narrative history describes how overlanders survived their first year in Oregon and how the first-year experience evolved from 1840 to 1869. While many arrived in Oregon City in the 1840s, or in Portland in later years, they settled far and wide across the Willamette Valley, Umpqua Valley, Red River Valley, Clatsop Plains, and other parts of Oregon and Washington. They often spent their first winters in temporary accommodations with friends, relatives, or strangers willing to rent rooms, and they only later found land where they could build their own houses and live more permanently.

Please explore this newly available information on the website of the National Park Service. Scroll down until you find "Complete Research Report" and click there. 


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!


The Mormon Battalion Association Presents "Women Who Walked and Waited"

Join the Mormon Battalion Association for a storytelling event, "Women Who Walked and Waited," at the Murray (Utah) Heritage Center on Saturday, April 23 at 7 PM. The Center is located at #10 East 6150 South in Murray and there is no charge for attendance. Storytellers Cassie Ashton and Jan Smith will speak about the women who were with the Mormon Battalion, while Mary Ann Kirk will provide historical background. 
2022 Southern Trails Chapter of OCTA Symposium

The Southern Trails Chapter of OCTA is pleased to announce their FREE spring symposium in Temecula, California from Monday, April 25 through Wednesday, April 27. 

A welcome reception will be held from 1-4 PM on Monday, April 25 at the Saint Catherine's Catholic Chapel in Sam Hicks Monument Park, next to the Temecula Valley Museum. There will be private access to the museum and the displays as part of the event. Walking Tours of Old Town Temecula will be led by a guide as well as self-guided walking tour maps are available. The guided walking tour will begin at 4 PM.

The chapter is excited to add an exciting final stop on the walking tour of Old Town Temecula, the Hotel Temecula. The hotel dates back to the 1880s and the tour will end there. (See also this YouTube video on the hotel!) The day will conclude at a local winery, which will conduct a wine tasting for the attendees.

Reservations are held at an historic 1909 Temecula restaurant for dinner Monday night. Please do take advantage of this famous old building there in Old Town on Front Street! We will enjoy the company of our symposium guests and share a meal together at 5:45 PM.  We will host the event but let you pick up your own dinner tab. It will be a fun evening.

Then we head back to the hotel for a night's rest before the Road Rally on Tuesday. We will meet at the Little Temecula History Museum Red Barn at 9 AM for an orientation and a 10 AM departure time. This exciting event allows you to drive your own car on a pre-planned route with historical stops and knowledgeable leaders. We will be making stops along the way that include some walking on easy paths.

Finally, Wednesday wraps up with a visit to the Vail Headquarters and the Little Temecula History Museum, which will offer an exciting day with speakers in the morning in the Museum, lunch at the Vail Headquarters as well as a tour, displays and education as we turn back the clock to the 1800’s! Local experts will share some of the history of Riverside County as we look back through time. We’ll share important facts and stories along with the chance to interact with the authors of a variety of books on the topics. Then we’ll enjoy Vail Ranch Headquarters for the afternoon. It's a packed couple of days, but we promise it's going to be a good time!  View also the Vail Headquarters YouTube video, if you haven't seen it before

Learn more on
the registration website

2022 California-Nevada
Chapter of OCTA Symposium

Image Courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California

The California-Nevada Chapter of OCTA invites you to their spring symposium in Anderson, California (which is just outside of Redding). The symposium will be held from May 6-8 and the Gaia Hotel & Spa will serve as symposium HQ. Room rates are $104/night and the rate is valid until April 20. 

The Nobles Trail will be a feature of the symposium, but a highlight will be a presentation about Pierson B. Reading, a prominent Northern California pioneer who entered the Sacramento Valley in 1843 with the Joseph Chiles Party after they traveled down the Pit River. He received the northernmost Mexican Land grant, Rancho Buena Ventura, and made the second gold strike in California in 1848 on Clear Creek, west of his ranch.

Another highlight of the symposium will be a historical enactment by the Voices of the Golden Ghosts. Their mission is to bring to light the interesting and important pages of African American involvement in the Gold Rush, as their stories have been nearly lost from the history books to date.

On Sunday, symposium attendees will have an opportunity to visit Shasta State Historic Park for a tour and historic presentation by Jonathan Sutliff, park interpreter. Participants will see what remains of the old city at the end of the Nobles Trail, tour the museum, visit the historic cemetery where Phoebe Colburn is buried, then do a post symposium tour back up the Nobles Trail as far as Shingletown.

The tour will feature the crossing of the river where the ferry was located as well as the location of Fort Redding. Other highlights include the Dersch Ranch, a station and camp on the trail, Foot of the Mountain Station, and Charlie’s Ranch, site of bear and bull fights that brought people from as far away as Sacramento and San Francisco to witness the excitingly brutal action that was finally outlawed in 1859.

The tour will end at Shingletown, which was named for the shingles it produced for Shasta and neighboring gold rush towns.

For more information and to download the registration form, please visit our website. The registration deadline in April 20, so do not delay!


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.

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

Northwest Trails Spring 2022 Newsletter
Read the issue by clicking here

Oregon Trail Caravan Newsletter for April 2022
Read the issue by clicking here

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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