Technology is always taking mankind further along the trail of progress.

Trails and Rails

2011 marked the 150th birthday celebration for the State of Kansas. Join us in wishing her a happy birthday.

October 2010 also marked an important event in Marshall County, Kansas where the Trails Capital of Kansas hosted an Oregon Trails Symposium in Marysville, KS.

All the old maps of the Oregon Trail include Marysville, where Frank Marshall and his wife Mary set up their home in the 1850 era. Frank was a sharp business man, and knew that supplies for the travelers would provide a marketing opportunity and he was quick to pursue it. The old Courthouse Museum in Marysville is like a time capsule, with many original exhibits that preserve time. The lovely old building makes its own statement. It is truly one of my favorite stops in this charming old town.

The Pony Express Home Station #1 remains with a valuable collection of all things old. It shares important information about technology, and how far we have come in the last 150 years. It is a valuable stop for all travelers, and doesn’t require a lot of time, but it is well worth your investment!

Train lovers enjoy this area of the country, and Union Pacific has an incredible yard there. We are excited to see the Union Pacific railroad’s “Challenger” Number 3985 in Marysville, KS on October 1st and October 12th as part of a six state 2,200 mile tour from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Gorham, Illinois as part of a railroad heritage celebration. To kick off the tour, the Challenger, the world’s largest operating steam locomotive will be pulling the Barnum and Bailey® Circus train between Speer, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado.

Click here for more information on this historic trip.

Christopher Shaw Jones, an avid train enthusiast and history student added: “The age of steam engines advanced America and our economy like no other technology we had experienced. It allowed for rapid development and helped people move at a pace faster than 3 to 5 miles per hour. You could cross the Oregon Trail in 6 days by train, instead of 6 months by foot and wagon. The opportunity to attend the Oregon Trail Symposium and see the Challenger 3985 truly is a great opportunity for a teenager like me. I appreciate that history is alive and well in America, and that I can experience it first hand. We are celebrating many 150th anniversaries across America, and I’m proud to be a teenager at this time!”

A post-event update from Melissa Shaw Jones

We would like to thank the KANZA Chapter of the Oregon Trail Symposium for hosting the event in October in Marysville, KS.

Christopher and I enjoyed the presentations on Saturday and especially the Sunday fieldtrips. Our ambassador, Duane Durst did a great job sharing his love of the local trails and showed us some special crossings that run through Marshall County and the other local counties.

Seeing Hollenberg Station first hand, and the wonderful museum they have built there was refreshing. We love the whole Pony Express story, and to be there this 150th year of their story was truly an honor. The original building is in a fabulous state of repair and authentic.

The adjacent museum has nice displays, and we loved the “green” status of the building. It truly makes a statement, and the custom painted mural is fabulous. The thoughtful nature of it, and the story it tells is precious. I read an 1855 letter posted on the wall written by an early settler, who shared the details of his travel west by rail, and how his family should follow him out. His hard working German character shown through, and the struggle to travel in earlier times. I take such comfort in my own Nissan Quest these days, and the fact that my Covered Wagon comes with air conditioning and speed. I realize how blessed we are with all that technology has brought us!

The 4th Grade class project of the Oregon Trail Wagons, (think Red Flyer with a cute cover) and the whole thoughtful project of what to pack, and what you would need for the journey should be normal school curriculum. When traveling by wagon weight would become an issue, and different parts of the trail required different things. The class has a chance to “walk the trail” and stop at stations along the way. They can earn points for making good choices in tough situations. They are life lessons that are valuable with a chance to feel connected to our pioneer pasts and how far we have come. It’s a good lesson for any student, and learning to love history first can make any book more exciting.

I’m glad we had the chance to pull Christopher out of high school for a few days so he could live history firsthand. My own grandfather had homesteaded in Eastern Oregon in 1917 under Abraham Lincoln's Develop The West Act, so a visit to the Homestead National Monument of America to see the wonderful movie and story of The Homestead Act gave us chills. We saw the stories of families that kept moving west, and we knew we were part of that spirit! Our thanks to their excellent hosts, and terrific exhibits!

More families need to get out on the road and see America first hand. Learning history makes you a better American. You will be amazed at all the great people out there in our communities. It’s refreshing!

Warm regards,
Melissa Shaw Jones

Video: Click here to see how Abraham Lincoln brought the Transcontinental Railroad to life.

“Trails Capital Of Kansas” Symposium In Marysville

Travis Boley reports the following:

The Oregon-California Trails Association‘s “Trails Capital of Kansas Symposium” in Marysville will be held at the Army National Guard Armory from Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10. Speakers and tours will focus on historic trails along the Kansas and Nebraska border, including the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Pony Express, routes used by Mormons, the military, cattle trails, and the short-lived Oketo Cutoff, which was used by Ben Holladay’s 1860s stagecoach line. The award-winning docudrama, a new film about teenagers on the Oregon Trail, will screen on Friday evening. Saturday morning will kick off with five speakers, while the afternoon will feature a tour of Alcove Spring, one of the most famous sites on the Oregon-California Trail. It is best known as a campground for the ill-fated Donner Party. Today, visitors can still see a rock inscription carved by James Reed in May 1846, and Alcove Spring is also the final resting place for Sarah Keyes, who was the first fatality in the Donner-Reed wagon train.

Dr. Michael Tate, professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, will deliver the keynote address at a banquet on Saturday evening, and Sunday will conclude with guided trail tours both south and north of Marysville. The event is expected to draw over 100 trail enthusiasts from around the country, and early registrations already include visitors from Wyoming and Indiana. The main symposium goal is to increase awareness and protection of historic trails in Kansas and Nebraska.