2017 Santa Fe Trail Association Symposium

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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This past week, I was privileged toattend a special, historical trail symposium presented by the Santa Fe Trail Association and the National Stagecoach and Freight Wagon Association.  From start to finish,it was one of the best organized and information-packed excursions I’ve everbeen a part of.  If you missed it, youmissed a lot.  That said, word on thestreet is that these folks will have an equally significant retreat in St. Louisin 2019.  Consider yourself dulyinformed.  If you’re interested in earlytrails, western vehicles, and the particulars surrounding those studies, you’llwant to make sure you have the next event marked on your ‘to do’ list.  With that said, I thought I’d take the nextfew weeks and give a brief overview of some highlights of this year’sevent. 

The Olathe Community Center was anexceptional facility for the formal presentations shared during the 2017 SantaFe Trail Association symposium.
Larry Short introduced each of the halfdozen speakers to a crowd of just over 150 folks from all over the country.
The presentations for the 2017 Santa FeTrail symposium were held at the Olathe Community Center and the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Historic Farm.  Other segments of the gathering included aseries of bus tours focused on different aspects of the Santa Fe Trail.  Organizers also included a ‘night-at-the-museum’dinner and tour of the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City.  That facility - and the discoveries it holds- is beyond amazing.  Some attendees evenmade the brief trip to Ft. Leavenworth to take in even more history housed inthe Frontier Museum. 

While informal talks were conducted throughout the multitude of activities, the opening presentations for the event wereheld at the Olathe Community Center. Unfortunately, that simple-sounding name doesn’t do much to convey whatan outstanding asset this facility is to the local area.  Surrounded by an ultra-modern, yet relaxedand inviting atmosphere, the resource is filled with art, education, exercise, and sportsactivities for the young and young at heart. While we were there, families were celebrating birthdays, holdingvolleyball games, swimming, participating in study groups, checking out a hugeconsignment sale, exploring a farmer’s market, and relaxing in the picturesquesetting and picnic/playground areas.  It’s an incredibly welcoming jewel for thefolks in Olathe. 

Steve Schmidt’s presentation on theSibley Survey provided an exceptionally detailed look at the history,beginnings, and development of the Santa Fe Trail.  
Mike Dickey outlined a wealth ofinformation related to Native American tribes located along the Santa Fe Trail.
Truth is, if you came to this eventexpecting to learn more than you could carry away, you weren’tdisappointed.  There was so muchinformation passed along throughout the multi-day event that it would be toughto get it all into one blog post.  As aresult, this week, I’ll limit my focus to the formal presentations and sharemore details on the rest of the symposium in the weeks to come.
My presentation focused on thehistorical development of freight wagons on the Santa Fe Trail.  It included a considerable amount of primarysource details and imagery never shown before.  
Leo Oliva expounded on the ‘Doctrine ofDiscovery’ within his talk related to Soldierson the Santa Fe Trail.
Doug Hansen of Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop provided a wealth of informationrelated to the Art of the Wheelwright.  His talk was generously filled with technical and practicalinformation.
Craig Crease not only delivered anexcellent formal presentation on the Santa Fe Trail but also hosted anextensive bus tour highlighting the trail’s original routes.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share evenmore images and insights from this Santa Fe Trail Association event.  To the person, the meeting was filled with friendly, engaging folks.  I’m glad I wasthere.  Not only does that kind of atmospheremake for an ideal learning experience, it left everyone with a lot of greatmemories.  Special thanks to Greg and Joanne VanCoevern for reaching out to me over two years ago as they helped to plan this impressive gathering.
Rawhide Johnson, Cameron Bean, and JeffMcManus provided additional presentations at the historic Mahaffie StagecoachStop.
Next week, we’ll focus on a lot more ofthe event activities, including a hands-on look at wheelwrighting presented byDon Werner of Werner Wagon Works.
Please Note:  As with each of our blog writings, all imagery and text is copyrighted with All Rights Reserved.  The material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written permission from David E. Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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