Last week, I shared a few of theactivities and behind-the-scenes events from the recent Santa Fe TrailAssociation Symposium held in Olathe, Kansas. This week, I’m continuing coverage of the gathering with a focus on thehappenings at the historic Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm. On October 18th, I’llfinish up the highlights with a look at our trip to the Steamboat Arabia Museumand the Fort Leavenworth Frontier Museum. Each of these settings provided an amazing backdrop for studyingAmerica’s early trail and transportation history.
|On the National Register of HistoricPlaces, the Mahaffie home served passengers traveling with the ‘Barlow,Sanderson and Company’ stagecoach line during the nineteenth century.
|While commonplace on the Santa Fe andother trails, the process of yoking and driving oxen is a rare sighttoday.
|Don Werner of Werner Wagon Works demonstrated the art and science involved inhot-setting wagon tires.
The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop andHistoric Farm is located just across the street from where the formalpresentations took place in the Olathe Community Center. Friday, September 29th, a host ofactivities were on tap for the symposium attendees. Don Werner of Werner’s Wagon Works shared awealth of information related to the design and construction of wagon wheels. Tim Talbott, Mahaffie Site Director,discussed the process of yoking oxen and Rawhide Johnson gave a particularlyinteresting firsthand account of stage coaching. Turns out that his dad had purchased a stagecoach line (complete with coaches) in the early part of the twentieth century. What an amazing opportunity! Doug Hansen followed up with more details onvarious accoutrements of staging and wagon driving while Greg VanCoevern sharedaspects of his army ambulance and Jeff McManus and Cameron Bean conductedblacksmithing seminars. It was a fullday of demonstrations which also included tours of the historic Mahaffie farmand period home. The Mahaffie farm was astage stop for passing travelers as early as the Civil War. Today, the home stands as one of the few,surviving stage coach stops on the Santa Fe Trail. The preservation of the facilities allowsvisitors from all over the world to learn more about U.S. frontier travel aswell as life on an 1860’s-era farm.
|Traditional blacksmithing techniques andtools were highlighted by Jeff McManus and Cameron Bean from the National Stagecoach and Freight Wagon Association.
|Part of Doug Hansen’s on-site presentations included highlights on brakingmethods used on early western vehicles.
|During the nineteenth and early twentiethcenturies, the U.S. Army employed a number of different styles of horse-drawnvehicles. Greg VanCoevern shared some ofthose details as they related to his army ambulance.
Next week, I’ll wrap up our coverage ofthe 2017 Santa Fe Trail Association Symposium with a look at our visit to the Steamboat Arabia Museum and FortLeavenworth Frontier Museum. Bothlocales provided a great deal of insight into early freighting, travel onAmerican trails, and the vehicles used throughout the frontier.
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