Dorothy and Lee Kroh, Founders of Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association
Lee and Dorothy Kroh
An interview conducted in 2014 by KCAHTA Treasurer and Webmaster- Jean Coupal-Smith with Lee and Dorothy Kroh left insight into how the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association was founded. Lee, being a Santa Fe Trail enthusiast since 1960 had traveled the entire route of the Santa Fe Trail, twenty-five or more times by auto. With Dorothy driving, Lee with pencil in hand, maps in lap, he worked with a complete set of topographical maps plus being guided by old faded Boy Scout troop markings, rusted out signs placed by local organizations and landmarks on the horizon to find remnants of the trail. Most memorable to Lee is flying as a passenger in a small plane over Raton Pass with Don Berg (owner of Uncle Dick Wootton's Ranch), who pointing out the remnants of the toll road. Dorothy found excitement flying west of Boise City, NM and seeing seven sets of ruts off the horizon at sunset.
During her years of marriage with Lee, Dorothy has her own acclaim for trail history and research. Having grown up in the Morris Community of Wyandotte County she is very familiar with the Santa Fe Trail and the Military Road. Her knowledge and research was sparked by a challenge from attending a National Park Service meeting conducted by Mr. Jere Krakow to go home to their communities and “write it down.” Having firsthand knowledge of the area gave her a prime opportunity to return to the community a wealth of information about their homes and neighborhoods. Dorothy maintained a record of their early preservation interests and activities (from 1992 -2000) which established a record of how the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association was established. Her records are the basis of the preceding narrative on the history of the organization.
What came forth from all of the knowledge, dedication and passion for the trails has been many wonderful pieces of work. As Dorothy stated from the “six years labor of love” came the organization of the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association.
As in starting any business, a non-profit has the same challenges to comply with all Federal and State requirements. The end result was the formation of the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association. It has continued to grow in membership, currently over 70 members; our members cross over into other trail organizations. It partners with area municipalities to assure our past is recognized and preserved.
We are very proud of Lee and Dorothy Kroh for the many years of experience, knowledge, research and hard work that they have given to the forming of the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association. They are as down to earth as the trails they researched and a joy to sit and talk with. Without their dedication we would not have been a trail organization for the past 20 years. Dreams have become realities through visual signs, wayside exhibits, mapping, education, advocacy, and partnerships with the public and private sectors to preserve our historical and cultural heritage.
As KCAHTA continues to evolve we rely on Lee and Dorothy’s knowledge as well as others who contribute to keep the “trail alive and well.” Our passion, like theirs will continue to teach future generations that in order to know where you’re going you have to know where you have come from.
Lee and Dorothy grew up in Wyandotte County, Kansas and graduated from Turner High School in 1948. They married and have resided in their Merriam, KS home since 1959, which is near the roadbed of the Military Road. They have two sons, Roger of Lenexa, KS with wife, daughter and son; Brian with wife and 3 daughters of Vero Beach, FL.