2022 40th Annual OCTA Convention

Casper, Wyoming 

Leaving the Platte

August 28 - September 2, 2022

The Oregon-California Trails Association and the Wyoming Chapter of OCTA present “Leaving the Platte” from Sunday, August 28 through Friday, September 2. The Ramkota Hotel at 800 N. Poplar Street is convention HQ, with additional events occurring at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and Fort Caspar. 

The convention will focus on the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails as they lead into and out of Casper (including the corridor's usage by American Indians for thousands of years prior to usage by emigrants) as well as the Bozeman Trail and prehistoric indigenous sites in the Red Desert near South Pass. The convention will explore each of these different eras via tours throughout the region, a premiere list of authoritative speakers, and events at other local sites. 

Ask for the special Oregon-California Trails Association room rate of $89 at the Ramkota Inn when placing your reservation. You can reach them at 307-266-6000.

There is a cutoff on the rooms held for this event August 14, 2021. However as long as we have rooms available, the rate will be honored. 

If you go on the tours, bring hats and windbreakers. Though we fully expect sunny skies and 75-degree temperatures, Casper weather can change suddenly in August and September. Remember, it is an arid high-altitude region, so hydrate and let yourself acclimate!  Most likely, it will be sunny and pleasant, so protect yourself from UV while out on tours. It is more intense at increased elevations.

If you're interest in being a book vendor or participating in Author's Night, please contact Kathy Conway at OCTA HQ at [email protected] or 816-252-2276.


Filling out your registration:

You will need to fill out your registration in one session. If you fill it out halfway and walk away it will not be saved.


  • Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

  • Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

  • Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

  • You can add family members to this order after the initial registrant registration is submitted. Select "Add Participant" after the SAVE REGISTRATION is selected.

    Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

  • You can add family members to this order after the initial registrant registration is submitted. Select "Add Participant" after the SAVE REGISTRATION is selected.

    Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

  • You can add family members to this order after the initial registrant registration is submitted. Select "Add Participant" after the SAVE REGISTRATION is selected.

    Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

  • Includes all speakers for Monday, August 29

  • Includes all speakers for Monday, August 29

  • Includes all speakers for Wednesday, August 31

  • Includes all speakers for Wednesday, August 31

  • Must provide proof of employment with a school or university

    Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

  • Must provide proof of enrollment at an accredited educational institution. Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.

    Includes all of the speakers and receptions. There is an additional fee for tours and meals.


Are you an OCTA Member?

Check if you are an OCTA member.

Is this the first time you will be attending an OCTA Convention or Symposium?


2022 OCTA Convention Schedule

(Schedule Subject to Change)

Thursday, August 25 - Friday, August 26


Saturday, August 27


Saturday, August 27

 



Sunday, August 28

 

 


Mapping and Marking Workshop at Martin's Cove


Preservation Workshop, Ramkota Hotel


Pre-Convention Tours

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM: Red Desert Indigenous Sites Trek with Yufna Soldier Wolf and Jason Baldes 


7:30 AM - 5:00 PM: Fort Laramie - Elva Ingram grave trek with Randy Brown

9:00 AM - 2:00 PM: OCTA National Board Meeting at the Ramkota

2:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Book room open

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM: Welcome Reception National Historic Trails Center

Monday, August 29

8:00 AM - 6:00 PM: Book room open

8:00 - 10:45 AM - Welcome and Opening Session at the Ramkota

SpeakersTopic

Todd Guenther, Keynote Speaker

11:00 - 11:45 AM

“South Pass”

Noon - 1:00 PM - Lunch at the Ramkota

Talks will be run as concurrent sessions in two different rooms:

1:00 - 2:00 PM - "Searching for the Soldiers' Bones, Part I," Danny Walker

1:00 - 2:30 PM - "Bozeman Trail Panel," Susan Badger Doyle, Dave McKee, and Donovin Sprague

2:00 - 3:00 PM - "Searching for the Soldiers' Bones, Part II," Al Fraser and Steve Haack

3:00 - 4:00 PM - "1980s Excavation of Red Buttes Fight Soldier's Grave," Rick Weathermon

3:00 - 4:00 PM - "New Bozeman Trail Diary of James Mills and the Legend of Mni-Akuwin," Chuck Rankin

4:30 - 6:00 PM - Author's Night

4:00 - 7:00 PM - Dinner on your own

7:00 - 8:30 PM - Film debut of "The Battle of Red Buttes" and "Wagon Master: Hansen's Hand-Crafted History" at the Fox Theater

Tuesday, August 30

Bus Tours:

- Casper to Independence Rock and Devil's Gate via Avenue of Rocks and Willow Spring (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

- Bozeman Trail from Cantonment Reno to Fort Phil Kearny and the Fetterman Fight Site (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

- Joel Hembree and Other Grave Sites Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

- Reshaw's Bridge, Red Buttes, Emigrant Gap, and Other Sites Near Casper (8:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

-Half-Day Van Tour to Red Buttes Battle Site (1:00 - 5:00 PM)



Wednesday, August 31

7:00 AM - 8:00 AM: Chapter Meetings

8:00 AM - 2:00 PM: Book room open

8:00 - 8:30 AM - Opening Remarks

8:30 - 9:30 AM - The Lander Road and the New Fork Crossing, Clint Gilchrist

Morning talks after 9:30 AM will run as concurrent sessions

9:30 - 10:30 AM - "Snow in the Great American Desert," Dick Rieck

9:30 - 10:30 AM - "Overland Mail Routes, 1858-69," Pat and Jack Fletcher

10:30 - 11:30 AM - "Early 20th Century Trails Preservation: Ezra Meeker, Grace Hebard, and H.G. Nickerson," Kylie McCormick

10:30 - 11:30 AM - "The Covered Wagon Centennial Celebration at Independence Rock: Howard Driggs and the 1930 Gathering at Independence Rock," Camille Bradford

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM - Lunch at the Ramkota

1:00 - 2:00 PM - "LDS and BLM Trails Management at Martin's Cove and Rocky Ridge," Chad Orton, Craig Bromley, and Jared Oakleaf

3:00 - 5:00 PM - Activities at Fort Caspar

5:00 - 7:00 PM - BBQ and Entertainment at Ft. Caspar


Thursday, September 1









Friday, September 2   


Repeat of Tuesday tours (minus the 1/2 day van tour)

6:00 - 8:30 PM Period Clothing Parade, Auction, and Raffle - Awards Banquet






9:30 am - 5:00 pm: Private Vehicle Trek - Rocky Ridge to Burnt Ranch near South Pass with Craig Bromley, Adam Calkins, and Todd Guenther                                                                        

7:30 am - 5:00 pm: Private Vehicle Trek - Douglas West to Mary Kelly Grave with Randy Brown                                         

 

All bus tours leave and return to the Ramkota.


Saturday, August 27, 2022

  • Pre-Convention Tour: Red Desert Indigenous Sites Trek

    Pre-Convention Tour: Red Desert Indigenous Sites Trek [Sold Out]

    The landscape of the Red Desert south of South Pass is scattered with remains telling stories of people who lived there from time immemorial. Most anchored in the area were the Shoshone and Ute tribes, with the Arapaho, Lakota, Crow and Cheyenne prevalent as well. More recently, the Red Desert was among the vast Shoshone lands recognized in the 1863 Treaty of Fort Bridger, around 44 million acres in parts of what are Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming. Just five years later, the treaty was amended, and the Eastern Shoshone were assigned a reservation on Wind River, north of the Red Desert, about one-tenth the size of the lands identified in the 1863 agreement.

    Tour leaders Yufna Soldier Wolf, northern Arapaho, and Jason Baldes, Eastern Shoshone, will meet the group at the South Pass Rest Area on Wyoming Rte. 28 at 9 a.m. Saturday, August 27, and head south on dirt roads from there. Sites will include places tribal elders have long identified as significant, including thousand-year-old rock art sites, stone circles, a buffalo jump and much more. Tour will last all day and is limited to 10 vehicles; four-wheel drive highly recommended. For the nights before and after the trek, a reasonably priced hotel in Lander is the Holiday Lodge at $90 per night. Phone (307) 332-2511 before August 12 if possible to make your own reservation. Other Lander hotels will be more expensive. From Lander it’s 150 miles to Casper.

    On the trek, bring lunch, water and sunscreen—and dress for the weather. Limited to 10 vehicles.

    Price $10.00



Sunday, August 28, 2022

  • Fort Laramie/Elva Ingram Grave Trek

    Fort Laramie/Elva Ingram Grave Trek [5 remaining]

    Trekkers will meet at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, August 28 at the parking lot next to the old iron bridge two miles west of the town of Fort Laramie on Wyoming Rte. 160, immediately west of where the road crosses the modern bridge over the North Platte River. From there, the trek will proceed along the south side of the North Platte to the Mary Homsley grave and then follow the trail toward Guernsey, Wyo., with stops at several places to view huge swales. The Mexican Hill ruts will be visited, then Warm Springs, and trail routes up out of the Warm Springs Canyon on canyon exits with deep ruts in rock. At Guernsey the trek will cross the river to trace part of the Child’s Cutoff on the north side. The Child’s Cutoff was opened in 1850. It allowed emigrants who had been following the Council Bluffs Road along the north bank of the river to remain on the north side and thus avoid having to cross at Fort Laramie and again in the area near what’s now Casper.

    On the Child’s Cutoff, the trek will visit the Elva Ingram grave, more ruts in rock and nearby Box Elder Springs, the site of several graves. The trek will end there.

    The trek will be led by longtime trails historian and Wyoming OCTA Preservation Officer Randy Brown, author of Graves and Sites on the Oregon Trail (OCTA, 1998) and Historic Inscriptions on Western Emigrant Trails (OCTA, 2004). The trek will not include a tour of Fort Laramie itself, or of Register Cliff and Deep Rut Hill near Guernsey, all of which are open to the public and of easy access. CB radio highly recommended; four-wheel drive or high-clearance vehicle required.

    On the trek, bring lunch, water and sunscreen—and dress for the weather. Limited to 10 vehicles.

    The Travelodge in Morrill, Nebraska has a small selection of rooms available for $60/night. We highly suggest staying there or some of the other (more expensive) hotels in nearby Torrington, Wyoming. Contact the hotel directly at (308) 217-4327 to make your reservation for the night of Saturday, August 27. The hotel is located at 707 E Webster St, Morrill, NE 69358.

    Price $10.00

  • Opening reception at the National Historic Trails Center (6:00 - 8:00 PM)

    Opening reception at the National Historic Trails Center (6:00 - 8:00 PM) [220 remaining]

    light hors d'oeuvres included. Wine & beer (cash bar).

    Price $0.00


Monday, August 29, 2022

  • Keynote Speaker (11:00 AM - 11:45 AM)

    Keynote Speaker (11:00 AM - 11:45 AM)

    Todd Guenther - South Pass

    Keynote speaker Todd Guenther is an archaeologist and historian on the faculty at Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming. His fascination with westward migrations has deep roots: his ancestors served in the frontier army during the early 1860s and homesteaded on the Dakota prairies in 1873. He got hooked on trail archaeology as an undergraduate working at the Bordeaux Trading Post cemetery near Fort Laramie. Guenther holds BA and MA degrees from the University of Wyoming and has worked for the Office of Wyoming State Archaeologist, as curator at South Pass City State Historic site and as Director of the Lander Pioneer Museum. He guided college-credit, living history wagon trains in the Sweetwater / South Pass area for two decades. Guenther’s research has received awards from the States of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and the Oregon-California Trails Association.

    “South Pass is synonymous with the opening up of the American West,” wrote the World Monuments Fund. “Because the South Pass Landscape has escaped change and development, its vastness is a testament to what American pioneers encountered in the journey west…” Hundreds of thousands of people took tens of thousands of wagons and millions of livestock people across the continent by this route. The gentle South Pass saddle on the Continental Divide “Uncle Sam’s backbone” - has been called “The Gateway to the Continent” because it provided the only easy passage through the Rocky Mountains from the Atlantic to the Pacific watersheds; One historian called it the “Key to Empire.” Burnt Ranch, the frequently-torched target during the “Mormon” and Indian Wars was the built component in South Pass intended to facilitate American expansion. Globally significant South Pass enabled the US to expand to continental proportions and become the world’s leading power. Guenther will discuss the history and significance of the area in transforming the American nation, the American political system, and shaping the world we live in today.

    Price $0.00

  • Lunch, Noon to 1:00 PM

    Lunch, Noon to 1:00 PM

    Southwest Chicken Wrap

    Price $19.00

  • Speaker 1 (1:00 PM - 2:00 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Speaker 1 (1:00 PM - 2:00 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Danny Walker, "Searching for the Soldiers' Bones, Part I"

    Danny Walker worked for the Wyoming State Archaeologist Office from 1973 through 2015, retiring as the Wyoming assistant state archaeologist. He has been an adjunct faculty member of the anthropology department at the University of Wyoming since 1976. He is the author or co-author of more than 120 research articles and seven books. Dr. Walker is a registered professional archaeologist and a member of the Society for American Archaeology, the Plains Anthropological Conference, the Wyoming Archaeological Society, the Wyoming Historical Society, and the Wyoming Association of Professional Archeologists.

    What happened in July 1865 during a battle between 20 United States soldiers and 2-3000 Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors at what has become known as the Battle of Red Buttes? The search for the location of the Battle of Red Buttes began in the 1920s. A reevalutation of the battle including additional archaeological field and archive research has been ongoing since 2005 but has not located the mass grave of the twenty soldiers killed.
    While a four-hour battle may have an ephemeral archaeological footprint, it is still visible magnetically because of the battle activities (i.e., artifact distributions, burned wagon parts). Twenty-five hectares were surveyed with Bartington magnetometers in 2012 and 2016. Field studies in 2016 yielded the best evidence to date for the battle location. In 2018, the landscape was preserved from development with the help of The Conservation Land Fund and Bureau of Land Management.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 2 (1:00 - 2:30 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Speaker 2 (1:00 - 2:30 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Susan Badger Doyle, Dave McKee, and Donovin Sprague, "Bozeman Trail Panel Discussion"

    Susan Badger Doyle is an independent scholar with a PhD in American Studies, whose dissertation was on the cultural context of the Bozeman Trail. She is a consultant and author. She was the historian on the committee that developed the National Historic California Trail Interpretive Center. She is the editor of the two-volume set, Journeys to the Land of Gold: Emigrant Diaries from the Bozeman Trail, 1863–1866 (Montana Historical Society Press, 2000), and an abridged edition, Bound for Montana: Diaries from the Bozeman Trail (2004). She has been a member of OCTA since 1985 and served as OCTA secretary and two terms on the board of directors.

    Dave McKee is president of the Fort Phil Kearny/Bozeman Trail Association, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, development, education, and promotion of the Bozeman Trail and associated historic sites including Fort Phil Kearny. Dave received a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wyoming with an emphasis in northwest plains archaeology. He recently retired from a 34-year career with the U.S. Forest Service as an archaeologist, tribal liaison, and recreation program manager.

    In 1863, John Bozeman and associates first blazed a trail along old Native routes from the North Platte River to new gold fields in western Montana. Miners and emigrants began using the route regularly the following year. But the road ran through the heart of buffalo country promised the Lakota Sioux in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851—and the tribes immediately began resisting this incursion into their lands.

    Historians Susan Badger Doyle and Donovin Sprague, and archaeologist and trail supporter Dave McKee will discuss the history of the trail and its fate today.

    Doyle will describe the trail’s various routes from the North Platte River in Wyoming to Bozeman, Montana. Based on diaries, survey reports, government documents, maps, and other primary sources, she will show how the Bozeman evolved from an emigrant trail to a military road between forts, and the men who were responsible for the various segments as the route changed over the years from 1863 until it was closed in 1868. Sprague will discuss the tribes’ resistance to the invasion by Whites and the Army trying to protect them. And McKee will provide an overview of the preservation projects and educational programs sponsored by today’s Bozeman Trail Association, as well as details of the association’s on-going project to seek listing of the Bozeman as a National Historic Trail.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 3 (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM) -Concurrent Session

    Speaker 3 (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM) -Concurrent Session

    Al Fraser and Steve Haack, "Searching for the Soldiers' Bones, Part II"

    Allan Fraser is a retired physicist from the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University. In retirement he has consulted in areas related to his earlier career. He has a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Johns Hopkins University. His interests in retirement have been in geology, particularly the Wyoming meteorite field, and historical studies.

    Steven C. Haack is an independent researcher living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Topics of his published research include paleontology, Egyptology and archaeoastronomy. He has published a number of articles on the Battle of Red Buttes as well as about fifty book reviews concerning the military history of the West.

    In July 1865, combined tribes of Native Americans attacked a military wagon train west of Casper, WY. A few militiamen escaped, but most fought until their deaths. The site of the battle and the attendant mass burial have been investigated since early in the twentieth century. Our study concentrated at a particular swale that fit many of the accounts of the battle. We used metal detectors to find military artifacts, cadaver dogs to localize human remains, and extensive ground coring to search for the grave. We found a relatively high concentration of bullets and wagon parts. Independent trials with three cadaver dogs indicated the same scent location, but the mass grave was not found.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 4 (3:00 - 4:00 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Speaker 4 (3:00 - 4:00 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Rick Weathermon, "An Excavation of a Soldier’s Grave"

    Rick L. Weathermon received his B.A. in 1990, M.A. in 1996, and Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2011 from the University of Wyoming. Dr. Weathermon joined the Department of Anthropology as an Assistant Academic Professional Research Scientist (APRS) in 1995. He retired as a Senior APRS in summer 2022. Research interests include bioarchaeology, historic and prehistoric human use of Wyoming landscapes. Rick is also involved with recovery of American servicemen lost during World War II in the European Theater.

    As the Civil War drew to a close in the United States, warfare between the US military and Native Americans on the western plains had reached a fever pitch. Central to the conflicts were the emigrant trails and military stations that protected them, following the North Platte River across what would become Wyoming.

    In July 1865, a large native force surrounded Platte Bridge Station (Fort Caspar), a river bridge and small fort established near present day Casper, Wyoming. Fewer than 175 troops were stationed there, while their foes were estimated between 2,000 and 4,000. Three military wagons, alerted to the hostilities, attempted to corral about five miles to the west when attacked. The train held out for several hours but were ultimately overrun when ammunition gave out. A relief attempt from the fort under Lt. Caspar Collins with 20 mounted troops resulted in the deaths of Collins and four of his command, the remainder injured and driven back to the bridge. An historic grave discovered at the reconstructed Platte Bridge Station/Fort Caspar in the 1980s may add more details to that fateful day.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 5 (3:00 - 4:00 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Speaker 5 (3:00 - 4:00 PM) - Concurrent Session

    Chuck Rankin, "The Newly Discovered Bozeman Trail Diary of James Mills and the Legend of Mni-Akuwin"

    Charles Rankin is retired associate director/editor-in-chief for the University of Oklahoma Press and former Montana Historical Society Publications Director. He taught history and journalism at the university level after a ten-year career as a newspaper editor and radio news director. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of New Mexico and is editor or co-editor of three books. The University of Nebraska Press will publish his latest work, an edited collection of Civil War letters, in spring 2023. He and his wife Diane live in Helena, Montana.

    The Bozeman Trail diary of James Hamilton Mills (1837-1904), a Union veteran who traveled from Omaha to Bozeman in the summer of 1866, is significant for three reasons: first, although donated to the Montana Historical Society in 1977, it is newly discovered; second, it is an articulate record of events and observations during a dangerous travel season for which few diaries or reminiscences are known; and third, it includes the earliest known image of the gravesite scaffold of Mni-Akuwin, daughter of Brulé Lakota chief Spotted Tail. No other image of this Fort Laramie feature exists before 1876, when the girl’s remains were removed.

    Mills’ image, rendered only three months after Mni-Akuwin’s scaffold burial in March 1866, corresponds perfectly with military and civilian reports written at the time. It also lends new perspective on the memorial to Mni-Akuwin established at Fort Laramie in 2005.

    Price $0.00

  • Authors book signing (4:30 PM - 6:00 PM)

    Authors book signing (4:30 PM - 6:00 PM)

    Meet with authors and have them autograph your books!

    Price $0.00

  • "Battle of Red Buttes" and "Wagon Master: Hansen's Hand-Crafted History"  (7 PM - 9 PM)

    "Battle of Red Buttes" and "Wagon Master: Hansen's Hand-Crafted History" (7 PM - 9 PM)

    Join us at the Historic Fox Theater for a double-feature of two brand new documentaries, "Battle of Red Buttes" and "Wagon Master: Hansen's Hand-Crafted History." The Red Buttes film will make its world debut at the Casper Convention and will become a permanent part of the exhibits at the National Historic Trails Center. Wagon Master is OCTA's newest documentary and features Doug Hansen, who builds and restores wagons and stagecoaches by hand. You'll be able to meet Doug as he does wheelwright demonstrations at Fort Caspar on Wednesday afternoon. Each movie is about 30 minutes long.

    Price $10.00

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

  • Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Avenue of Rocks, and Willow Spring Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Avenue of Rocks, and Willow Spring Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Bus will board at the Ramkota at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, August 30 and Sept. 1. Join us on a tour west from Casper to some of the best-known landmarks on the Oregon/California Trails. The route will take county roads that today the historic trail precisely, past sites mentioned in many trail diaries including Avenue of Rocks, Willow Spring, Prospect Hill—and Independence Rock.

    Known as The Great Register of the Desert and famous for the thousands of pioneer names carved and inscribed on its face, the rock is a granite monolith about 55 miles west of Casper. A gathering place since the area was first inhabited, this giant rock found its way into Native legends and later into the journals of thousands of pioneers. The rock won its name, at least in part, from the fact that emigrants who made it this far by the Fourth of July were likely to safely cross the mountain passes into California or Oregon before snow closed them in.

    Devil’s Gate, five miles further west, where the Sweetwater River cuts a dramatic cleft 370 feet deep and 1,500 feet long through solid granite, was another important landmark on the trails. With a trading post nearby by the 1850s, it and nearby Martin’s Cove became an important refuge for starving, freezing and dying members of the Willie Company of handcart-pulling Mormons in the late fall of 1856. Also nearby is the site of the 1847 grave of Frederick Fulkerson.

    The bus tour will be led by Jason Vlcan, visitor information specialist at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper, who is extremely knowledgeable about the trails. Joining Jason with more stories will be longtime OCTAn Levida Hileman, author of In Tar, Paint and Stone, and joining us at the Rock will be Carlo Migliaccio of Wyoming State Parks; the Rock is a state historic site.

    Box lunch and drinks included.

    Price $65.00

  • Bozeman Trail Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Bozeman Trail Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Bus will board at the Ramkota at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, August 30 and Sept. 1. In 1863, John Bozeman and associates first attempted to blaze a trail along old Native routes from the North Platte River to new gold fields in western Montana. Miners and emigrants began using the route regularly the following year. But the road ran through the heart of buffalo country promised the Lakota Sioux in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851—and the tribes immediately began resisting this incursion into their lands.

    Tribal resistance from Lakota, Cheyenne and some Arapaho warriors grew into Red Cloud’s War. The Army built forts, including Fort Phil Kearny, to protect the route. By 1868, with the transcontinental railroad nearly complete and a shorter route to the gold fields about to open up, the government was ready to make peace. The Army abandoned the forts and the tribes burned them. For a few more years, the tribes were left to hunt that country in peace.

    The tour will follow the trail route from the Powder River crossing and Fort Reno to the crossing of Crazy Woman Creek and finally Fort Phil Kearny and, if there’s time, the nearby sites of the Fetterman Fight and the Wagon Box Fight.

    Leading the tour will be longtime OCTAn and Bozeman Trail historian Susan Badger Doyle, author of Journeys to the Land of Gold : Emigrant Diaries from the Bozeman Trail, 1863-1866, 2 vols. and the shorter Bound for Montana: Diaries of the Bozeman Trail (Montana Historical Society Press, 2000 and 2004 respectively); Dave McKee, president of the Bozeman Trail Association which advocates for preservation and promotion of the trail, and historian Donovin Sprague of the faculty of Sheridan College, author of Ziebach County, 1910-2010; Cheyenne River Sioux; Pine Ridge Reservation (Images of America, 2003, 2004 and 2010, respectively). Sprague is Miniconjou Lakota and a descendant of the warrior Hump.

    Box lunch and drinks included.

    Price $65.00

  • Joel Hembree and Other Grave Sites Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Joel Hembree and Other Grave Sites Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Bus will board at the Ramkota at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, August 30 and Sept. 1. From Casper we’ll proceed to Natural Bridge Road and visit the Hembree and Ralston Baker graves on La Prele Creek. Six-year-old Joel Hembree died in 1843 when a wagon wheel ran over him in the same wagon train carrying Marcus Whitman to Oregon; this is the oldest known emigrant grave on the Oregon Trail. There will be a stop at beautiful Natural Bridge, a site occasionally visited by trail emigrants. Then we’ll go to the Barber Ranch and see the site of the 1864 Indian attack and graves of victims near Little Box Elder Creek. On the way back to Casper, we’ll conduct a grave tour and see the Unthank, Martin Ringo, J. P. Parker, Ada Magill and Quintina Snodderly graves. If time permits, we will finish at the site of Reshaw’s 1853 emigrant bridge in Evansville. Some walking up to a couple hundred yards will be required to visit some of these sites, so prepare accordingly.

    Box lunch and drinks included.

    Price $65.00

  • Reshaw's Bridge, Bessemer Bend, and Emigrant Gap Bus Tour (8:30AM - 5:00 PM)

    Reshaw's Bridge, Bessemer Bend, and Emigrant Gap Bus Tour (8:30AM - 5:00 PM)

    Bus will board at the Ramkota at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, August 30 and Sept. 1. From the earliest days of emigrant traffic on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails, what’s now the Casper area was the place where the road left the Platte for the final time and headed southwest to higher, drier country on the way to South Pass. Most travelers had come up the south side of the North Platte and it was necessary for them to cross the river here as well—a dangerous or at least expensive proposition. Trading posts, forts, ferries and bridges were all established here—varying widely in size, reliability, permanence and locations. Stops will include the site of so-called Reshaw’s Bridge, where French-speaking John Richard and his Oglala Lakota relatives ran a bridge, blacksmith shop and trading post in the 1850s; the site of the 1860s trading post and bridge that later became Fort Casper; and Bessemer Bend, often a crossing place later in the summer when the river was low.

    Local historians will lead the tour, including Jefferson Glass, author of Reshaw: The Life and Times of John Baptiste Richard (High Plains Press, 2013).

    Box lunch and drinks included.

    Price $65.00

  • Red Buttes Battle Site Van Tour (1:00 - 5:00 PM)

    Red Buttes Battle Site Van Tour (1:00 - 5:00 PM)

    Van(s) will board at the Ramkota at 1 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 30. This half-day, one-time-only tour will visit the site immediately west of Casper, the great majority of it recently acquired by the Bureau of Land Management, where thousands of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors attacked a small Army wagon train on July 26, 1865, in what later became known as the Battle of Red Buttes. About two dozen soldiers were killed and buried, according to reports at the time, in two large mass graves. Those graves have never been found, despite searching since the 1920s and more systematic searching in the last dozen years or so, and controversy lingers as to where they are likely to turn up.

    The tour will be led Patrick Walker, archaeologist in the Casper Field Office of the BLM, with likely commentary by local advocates of different points of view on where the bones’ likely location. The tour may require several hundred yards of walking in sagebrush and prickly pear, so wear stout shoes.

    Snacks and drinks will be included.

    Price $35.00

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

  • Opening Remarks (8:00 AM -8:30 AM)

    Opening Remarks (8:00 AM -8:30 AM)

    Tom Rea, Wyoming Chapter President and Convention Chairman

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 1 (8:30 AM - 9:30 AM)

    Speaker 1 (8:30 AM - 9:30 AM)

    Clint Gilchrist, "The Lander Road and the New Fork Crossing"

    Clint Gilchrist is executive director of the Sublette County Historical Society, parent organization of the Museum of the Mountain Man and the Lander Trail New Fork River Crossing Historical Park in Pinedale, Wyoming. An engineer by training, but a historian by passion, Clint was born and raised in Sublette County, Wyoming on a family ranch crossed by the Lander Trail.

    The Lander Trail was the first federally funded and engineered road built west of the Mississippi River. A 254-mile cutoff of the Oregon & California trails from South Pass to Fort Hall, it came later in the emigrant era (1859-1869), but still served tens of thousands of emigrants on their way to California, Oregon and the early gold mines of Montana. Government reports and almost 50 emigrant accounts paint a fascinating picture of trail life in western Wyoming including interactions with resident Indian tribes. Taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity in 2010, hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations partnered to permanently preserve an emigrant river crossing and camp site where the Lander Trail crossed the New Fork River. Gilchrist will give an update on development and management of this unique project, the 100-acre New Fork Park, which opened in 2014.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 2 (9:30 AM - 10:30 AM)

    Speaker 2 (9:30 AM - 10:30 AM)

    Dick Rieck, "Snow in the Great American Desert"

    Richard Rieck is a retired emeritus professor in the geography and geology departments of Western Illinois University. His research focused on glacial landforms and environments and appeared in national and international journals. In 1990 he began studying the relationship between trail deaths and geography. Since then, his research has expanded to weather conditions and other environmental phenomena experienced by emigrants. He won the Mattes Excellence in Writing Award in 2020.

    Most emigrants considered at least part of their trip across Wyoming to be in the "Great American Desert." Such a term evokes thoughts of dangerous heat and aridity. Yet in the travel seasons between 1847 and 1866 there are more than 2000 diary reports of snow drifts east of South Pass (more than 500 between Ft. Laramie and Casper and exceeding 200 near Casper). In that same period diarists recorded 1250 frost, ice and sub-freezing temperature observations; and actual snow falls were experienced nearly 750 times. Although sunburned and sweating emigrants might be standing on a snow drift, they could sometimes pick strawberries and flowers literally within a step or two. The patterns of dates, locations and causes of these phenomena are fascinating and illustrate a number of topographical and meteorological principles only some of which the emigrants themselves seem to have recognized.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 3 (9:30 AM - 10:30 AM)

    Speaker 3 (9:30 AM - 10:30 AM)

    Pat & Jack Fletcher, "Overland Mail Routes, 1858-69"

    Born, raised and educated in Colorado, the Fletchers taught [Jack, science; Pat-history and geography] at universities and public schools in Colorado, Guam, British Columbia, Arizona, and Washington state before retiring. Realizing that development would destroy Jack’s hometown. the Fletchers turned their investigative skills to local history and produced Colorado’s Cowtown, Part of Denver’s Forgotten Past 1(981); The Historic Windsor Farm (1982); and The History of Glendale (1983). Local primary history work had revealed that California-Oregon-Idaho-Montana bound travelers through Denver passed by Jack’s house on Parker Road over the Cherokee Trail. Fletchers’ work resulted in Cherokee Trail Diaries, vols. I-II [1849-1850] (1999), and Vol III [1851-1900] (2001). The Fletchers joined OCTA in 1993. Both have served as chapter officers and national board members.

    There were three major overland routes during this time: the Central Overland Route over the Oregon-California Trail via South Pass; the Southern Overland via Texas; and the route over Bridger Pass in what’s now southern Wyoming. None of these routes was ever profitable to either those who held the contract or the U.S. Postal service. Citizens of California who demanded mail service were divided: should the mail go to Southern or Northern California? The U.S. Presidents, Congress and Postmaster determined the routes or parts of them. Wars, Mormon and Civil, and the War Department were significant players. Contractors were ruined both physically and financially.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 4 (10:30 AM - 11:30 AM)

    Speaker 4 (10:30 AM - 11:30 AM)

    Kylie McCormick, "Early 20th Century Trails Preservation: Ezra Meeker, Grace Hebard, and H.G. Nickerson"

    Kylie McCormick has worked with the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper as a park ranger, contractor, and research assistant on and off since 2010. She also owns KLM Wyoming Historian where she works as a historian, researcher, and public speaker. She holds an MA in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and two undergraduate degrees from Hollins University.

    “The old Oregon Trail should be marked before all traces of this historic highway are obliterated,” wrote University of Wyoming professor Grace Raymond Hebard in 1913. Hebard’s appeal for public funding to mark the historic trails in Wyoming came seven years after Ezra Meeker, an eccentric pioneer of the 1859 Oregon Trail, began to travel the trails again. BLM Park Ranger Kylie L. McCormick will discuss their first organized efforts to mark the historic trails nationally and in Wyoming, as well as the legacy of public-private partnerships.

    Price $0.00

  • Speaker 5 (10:30 AM - 11:30 AM)

    Speaker 5 (10:30 AM - 11:30 AM)

    Camille Bradford, "The Covered Wagon Centennial Celebration at Independence Rock : Howard Driggs and the 1930 Gathering at Independence Rock"

    Camille Bradford has been a member of OCTA since 2003. She chairs the Hall of Fame and Governance committees, is a member of the Investment Advisory Committee, and is president of the Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter. In 2021 she was the recipient of the Gregory M. Franzwa Meritorious Achievement Award. Camille is an attorney and lives in Denver, Colorado.

    In February1930, President Herbert Hoover signed a proclamation for the nationwide observance of the Covered Wagon Centennial, commemorating both the 100th anniversary of the first wagon train that left St. Louis for Oregon Territory and the 100th anniversary of Ezra Meeker’s birth.

    The key event of the Centennial was the celebration at Independence Rock, July 3-5, sponsored by the Oregon Trail Memorial Association. The Casper Tribune-Herald reported on July 5:

    “A new page in Wyoming history was written Friday when approximately six thousand citizens, pioneers, and Scouts gathered at Independence Rock. It was an event such as never before taken place in the state, or the entire nation for that matter. The eyes of the nation were focused on the rock and the program presented there Fourth of July.”

    This presentation will describe the highlights of the celebration and include photographs and movie clips capturing the excitement and historic significance of the events.

    Price $0.00

  • Lunch

    Lunch

    Baked potato bar

    Price $20.00

  • Speaker 6 (1:00 - 2:00 PM)

    Speaker 6 (1:00 - 2:00 PM)

    Chad Orton, Caig Bromley, and Jared Oakleaf, "LDS and BLM Trails Management at Martin's Cove and Rocky Ridge"

    Chad Orton is a curator in the Historical Sites Division of the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is part of the team that is oversees the interpretation and operation of the church’s historical sites along the Mormon Trail, including the locations in Wyoming used for handcart treks.

    Craig Bromley retired in 2016 after 35 years as a professional archeologist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Lander, Wyoming. Before then, he worked as an archeologist in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York state and Arizona. He has worked in historic preservation since 1978 and has wide experience with Federal preservation laws, archeological inventory and excavation, National and Regional Historic Trail protection and interpretation, historical landscape analysis and protection, Native American consultation, historic cabin stabilization, rock art conservation/protection and interpretation, and historical research and interpretation. He currently lives in Lander and continues to work on archeological and historical projects and sites.

    Jared Oakleaf is a 22-year veteran of the BLM Lander Field Office (LFO). In concert with staff archeologist, Oakleaf has shared management responsibilities of the five National Trails (four National Historic Trails and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail) through the Lander Field Office. He has been extensively involved with managing and monitoring the recreational use of the National Historic Trails and related sites, and co-authored the National Scenic and Historic Trails section of the 2014 Lander Resource Management Plan. In 2014, Oakleaf received the American Recreation Coalition’s Legend Award for his work in the recreation field, including his management of national trails.

    From adversaries to partners: LDS Church-BLM cooperation in managing the historic trails

    In 1997, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acquired the core of the historic Sun Ranch at Devil’s Gate, in order to more easily tell the compelling story of the handcart-pulling emigrants who suffered and died there and along the trails in both directions in the wintry fall of 1856. The church later acquired a lease on Federal land at nearby Martin’s Cove, a location important to the Mormon version of events. Various stakes and other church organizations began organizing large re-enactment treks, with handcarts, on newly acquired church land in the Sweetwater Valley and on BLM-administered federal land, especially over Rocky Ridge near South Pass, 75 miles or more west of Devil’s Gate.

    By the early 2000s, the recreation pressure from handcarters on the trails over Rocky Ridge and in other stretches was extreme, and there began to be substantial friction between church trek leaders and the Lander Office of the BLM. How both sides were able to come to a much more collaborative approach to preserving and interpreting these trails will be the subject of this panel. Speaking will be Chad Orton of the LDS Church History Department in Salt Lake City; Craig Bromley, retired professional archeologist from the Lander BLM office; and Jared Oakleaf, current outdoor recreation planner in the same office. Tom Rea, author of "Devil’s Gate: Owning the Land, Owning the Story," will provide historical background and will moderate.

    Price $0.00

  • Fort Caspar Presentations (3:00 - 5:00 PM)

    Fort Caspar Presentations (3:00 - 5:00 PM)

    Tour Fort Caspar on your own, see a Pony Express mochila exchange live and hear remarks from members of the National Pony Express Association, and watch a wheelwright demonstration with Doug Hansen (star of OCTA's newest documentary, "Wagon Master").

    Price $0.00

  • BBQ at Ft. Caspar (5:00 - 7:00 PM)

    BBQ at Ft. Caspar (5:00 - 7:00 PM)

    Enjoy live music and entertainment by snake-oil salesman Dr. Dumass. Bruce Berst of Casper, Wyoming has worked as a living historian for 40 plus years. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in secondary education and is currently president of the board of the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center Foundation. A first-person character he created, Dr. Phineas Dumass, entertains audiences with a brief phrenology reading and hawks a variety of miracle cures for every malady known to mankind. He made an appearance in OCTA's multiple award-winning 2010 docudrama "In Pursuit of a Dream."

    Price $25.00


Thursday, September 1, 2022

  • Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Avenue of Rocks, and Willow Springs Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Avenue of Rocks, and Willow Springs Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM) [33 remaining]

    Box lunch and drinks included. See Tuesday for tour description.

    Price $65.00

  • Bozeman Trail Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Bozeman Trail Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM) [33 remaining]

    Box lunch and drinks included. See Tuesday for tour description.

    Price $65.00

  • Joel Hembree and Other Grave Sites Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM)

    Joel Hembree and Other Grave Sites Bus Tour (7:30 AM - 5:00 PM) [43 remaining]

    Box lunch and drinks included. See Tuesday for tour description.

    Price $65.00

  • Reshaw's Bridge, Bessemer Bend, Emigrant Gap, and Other Sites Bus Tour (8:30AM - 5:00 PM)

    Reshaw's Bridge, Bessemer Bend, Emigrant Gap, and Other Sites Bus Tour (8:30AM - 5:00 PM) [37 remaining]

    Box lunch and drinks included. See Tuesday for tour description.

    Price $65.00

  • Awards Banquet

    Awards Banquet [345 remaining]

    The Awards Banquet will include an Italian buffet as well as a costume parade and live auction.

    Price $30.00

  • Friday, September 2 - Rocky Ridge to Burnt Ranch near South Pass (9:30 am - 5 pm)

    Friday, September 2 - Rocky Ridge to Burnt Ranch near South Pass (9:30 am - 5 pm) [4 remaining]

    Meet at the Sweetwater Station Rest Area on U.S. 287, 115 miles west of Casper, at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2. The tour will visit Rocky Ridge—a particularly difficult stretch for the sufferers in the Willie handcart company in 1856. Driving the trail on the two-mile stretch over Rocky Ridge is prohibited, so the tour will visit monuments at the bottom and top of the ridge, plus the Mormon sites at Rock Creek Hollow. Also on the tour will be the grave of Ephraim Brown, killed in 1857 in what appears to have been a bitter family dispute, and finally Burnt Ranch, site of a trading post, army post and mail station at the Ninth Crossing of the Sweetwater. Time permitting, trekkers may want to visit the monuments at South Pass, a few miles away, at the end of the day.

    Leading the trek will be Craig Bromley, former longtime archeologist in the Lander Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, now retired, and current BLM Lander FO archeologist Adam Calkins. Also on the trek will be historian Todd Guenther, of the faculty of Central Wyoming College, who also will deliver the keynote the first day of the convention on the historical meaning and importance of South Pass.

    Trekkers may want to spend Friday night Sept. 2 in Lander or Rock Springs after the trek. A reasonably priced hotel in Lander is the Holiday Lodge at $90 per night. Phone (307) 332-2511 before August 12 if possible to make your own reservation. Other hotels in Lander and Rock Springs are likely to be more expensive.

    On the trek, bring lunch, water and sunscreen—and dress for the weather. Limited to 10 vehicles.

    Price $10.00

  • Friday, September 2 - Douglas West to the Mary Kelly Grave (7:30 am - 5 pm)

    Friday, September 2 - Douglas West to the Mary Kelly Grave (7:30 am - 5 pm) [9 remaining]

    This private vehicle post-convention trek willmeet at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2, in the parking lot of the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and proceed to Douglas. First stop will be north of town at trail ruts of the Child’s Cutoff. The rest of the day will be spent south of the North Platte River on the main Oregon Trail beginning at La Bonte Creek, then to the trail junctions on La Bonte Ridge. We’ll visit the site of the La Bonte stage station and cemetery, then proceed through the red earth country closely following the trail past Knob Hill, to Bed Tick and La Prele creeks, the site of La Prele Station and the Joel Hembree and Ralston Baker graves. The trail through this area is identified by OCTA markers on visible swales. We’ll finish at Little Box Elder Creek and the grave of Mary Kelly and the four men killed by Indians in 1864. The trek will be led by longtime trails historian and Wyoming OCTA Preservation Officer Randy Brown, author of Graves and Sites on the Oregon Trail (OCTA, 1998) and Historic Inscriptions on Western Emigrant Trails (OCTA, 2004). CB radios highly recommended; Four-wheel drive or high centered vehicles required.

    On the trek, bring lunch, water and sunscreen—and dress for the weather. Limited to 10 vehicles.

    Price $10.00



Special Instructions

Options for dietary restrictions (such as vegetarian or gluten-free) are available. Please use the space below or  contact us at (816) 252-2276 or [email protected] to discuss your needs and reserve these options.


Please read the liability waiver and indicate your acceptance by checking the box.

The undersigned agrees that neither the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), its directors, officers, employees, and agents, nor, to the extent legally permissible, any private or public (state or federal or instrumentality of either), landowner or tenant licensee in possession of any land on or over which any tour, field trip, or outing takes place, or through which it travels, in connection with or as part of any meeting or convention of OCTA, shall have any responsibility or liability, in whole or in part for any loss, damage, injury to person or property, delays and delayed departure or arrival, missed carrier connection, cancellations.

Changes in schedules, program, or itinerary, or mechanical defect or failures, or for any negligent act or omission of any nature whatsoever which results from, or arises out of, or occurs at or during any activities, programs, tours, field trips, or outing there at, or part thereof, or any accommodations, transportation, food, or other services or facilities furnished or supplies there at, or any additional expenses occasioned thereby, or any liability sustained or incurred as a result of any of the foregoing.

All persons registering at or attending any such meeting or convention shall be bound by the foregoing and deemed to have consented to the same by such registration or attendance.

$95.00

Registration fee is $1.00 plus 3% credit card fee:

$98.85

Reg Fox by Webconnex
Secure Online Registration Powered by RegFox