NATIONAL TRAILS DAY
This national day, always on the first Saturday in June, was developed by American Hiking Society a couple of decades ago to draw attention to our National Trails System and to urge people to get out on the trails. It emphasizes the thirty National Historic and Scenic Trails as well as all the hiking and biking recreational trails across the nation; all are a part of the National Trails System.
NATIONAL TRAILS DAY RENDEZVOUS EVENT
It was a very successful event at the Lone Elm Park Rendezvous Shelter! The weather was ideal and 47 people attended. This National Trails Day event was hosted jointly by Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association, Trails Head Chapter, and Missouri River Outfitters Chapter of SFTA. The agenda began with opening remarks by Jean Coupal-Smith, our treasurer, at about 10:30.
Following her was our old friend Kevin Corbett, retired Olathe Parks and Recreation Director,
who had a large part to do with the purchase of the 156 acre farm in 2001 from the Don Willsey family. It was one of the most famous campgrounds on the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails for wagon trains in the 1840s and 1850s.
The City of Olathe purchased the farm for $1.8 million and put over $4 million into it to construct the Rendezvous Shelter, children’s soccer and baseball fields, bridges and hiking trails.
Kevin has been a speaker at all our previous National Trails Day events at Lone Elm and other locations and we owe him a lot.
Ross Marshall spoke next and reviewed some of the other details of that farm purchase and the great example it was to our Greater Kansas City area that Olathe would invest that heavily in a National Trails Site. It opened the door to other suburban cities being very receptive to supporting our trails.
Larry Short, KCAHTA member, president of MRO and vice president of the Santa Fe Trail Association, reviewed the signage project that has resulted in more than 100 signs being erected on the Independence Route of the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails in the last couple of years. Each of the cities, the National Park Service and OCTA and SFTA, partnered financially and other ways to complete it. And Larry’s fingerprints were over all of it!
Shirley Coupal, past president of KCAHTA and former Kansas Regent of DAR, talked about the preservation of this site and others with DAR markers, especially along the Santa Fe Trail.
Our President Gary Hicks reviewed how KCAHTA has participated in Johnson County trail signage with over 350 “The Trail Crossed Here” signs in the last 15 years and, through renewed cooperative agreements with the National Park Service has erected over a dozen wayside exhibits, the last being in Penn Valley Park in February.
OCTA Manager Travis Boley reviewed the expansion of regional trails in our area like the KATY Trail that now has right-of-way that will allow the trail to continue into Kansas City, MO. In addition, he mentioned a number of cities across the western part of the U.S. that are now copying the Kansas City initiative in developing “Retracement Trails” displayed by the miles of pedestrian hiking trails being constructed by our suburban towns along our Historic Trail corridors.
After a wonderful lunch provided by Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ, Jean reconvened the group and introduced Tim Talbot , who spoke about wagons and especially oxen that he trains and has brought them to some of our previous Rendezvous events. He couldn’t bring the team this year because one of them was “in heat” and not behaving well.
Kevin Corbett then led several of us over one of the hiking trails and reviewed not only the history of the trail campground but how portions of it were developed, interpreted and preserved by the Olathe Parks and Rec after their purchase in 2001. Our special thanks to Jean Coupal-Smith whose leadership was invaluable in the planning and coordination of the event details!
Overall, a very successful and well-attended National Trails Day event.
On Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm, a dedication ceremony was held at the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence for the replacement Pioneer Woman Statue, shown above.
The original six-foot statue was dedicated March 24, 1990, a year or so after the National Frontier Trails Center (now called Museum) was opened. It was a wonderful piece of art, but it was placed back in between the Museum and the OCTA National Headquarters building and not very visible to the public.
That first statue was sculpted by Juan Lombardo of Mexico and was placed when Barbara Potts (who was present) was Mayor of Independence.
In June 2013, vandals stole the bronze statue, once valued at $30,000, smashed it to pieces and tried to sell it for scrap. They were caught and sent to prison. The statue pieces were never recovered.
About $40,000 was raised from private sources to replace the statue. The new one, also of bronze, was
sculptured by Charles Goslin, who did the magnificent trails murals in the Trails Center.
This Pioneer Woman Statue, like the first one, portrays the family responsibilities and efforts expended by women on the Oregon and California Trails. It is placed in front of the Museum in plain view for the public, similar to the nearby Jim Bridger statue.
SALEM PARK DEDICATION DECEMBER 2, 2016
On December 2, the Salem Park dedication took place at its location at Blue Mills Road and Highway 24 in eastern Independence on the Santa Fe Trail. It was a sunny but chilly morning, with over 30 people attending.
Larry Short, President of the Missouri River Outfitters Chapter and Vice President of SFTA who had managed the project during its entire design and construction phases over the last three years greeted everyone and began the ceremony. Also in attendance was Kristin Van Fleet and Steve Burns from the National Park Service in Santa Fe. Kristin and Lynne Mager were our principal NPS working partners. The principal partners on the project were the National Park Service, Jackson County Parks and Recreation., SFTA and their local MRO Chapter.
The three panels tell the story of the Santa Fe Trail with texts, maps and pictures to the east all the way to Old Franklin, MO, the local area, and west to the Kansas border. As usual, Craig Crease led the development of the text material on the exhibit panels, especially on the Blue Mills, the Blue Mills Landing and Fristoe’s Fishtrap.
The Oregon-California Trail began to the east at the Upper Independence (Wayne City) Landing, which is also a key Santa Fe Trail site.
A Joint Meeting involving KCAHTA, MRO and Trails Head Chapters was held on Saturday, March 26 at 10 a.m. – 5912 E. Bannister Road, KCMO at Schumacher Station; Lou Austin’s office.
The Powder Mill Bridge is the longest Interstate Highway overcrossing bridge in the nation on a National Historic Trail site. Lou, spoke briefly to the groups about how this spectacular project came to be possible. He was responsible for securing the funding and the approvals that enabled the bridge to be constructed.
After a brief meeting and listening to Lou give his talk about the Powder Mill Bridge, all who attended were then invited to go for a walk down to the bridge. Even though it was a rainy, cool March morning several took on the half mile walk. It is an amazing structure that spans the I-435 interstate highway below.
The bridge will be officially dedicated during the National Historic Trails Workshop on the morning of June 9 at 10:00 by local and national public officials and recognized as a Centennial Event as part of the 2016 100th Anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.