Right in Our Back Yard –

The miners and adventurers who went to California in 1849 came through our backyard – right here in Elko, Nevada.  There are hundreds of miles of the historic California Trail from the Goose Creek country to the headwaters of the Humboldt at Wells, Nevada, and from there to Elko, Carlin, and beyond.  The Hastings Cutoff, another important Trail enters Nevada from near Wendover and parallels I-80 until it joins the main trail near the California Trail Interpretive Center.

The week of September 12, you can step back into this glorious past by going on a hike, a guided bus tour, or listening to a speaker, watching a demonstration of Native American or Pioneer skills and crafts at the Annual Oregon-California Trails Association Convention at the Elko Convention Center.

You can choose a bus tour that fits your interests:  travel east toward West Wendover and see the Long Canyon Mine, operated by Nevada Gold Mines and the old Central Pacific Railroad grade; travel south down Ruby Valley and learn about Fort Ruby and the Shoshone who lived in the area; travel west to Beowawe and see the finest parallel wagon ruts in Elko County at Gravelly Ford; or, take the Guns and Ruts tour and see many trail traces near Wells, Nevada and visit a fabulous private gun museum near Osino.

Reenactors and others demonstrating Native American and pioneer skills and crafts will be ready and willing to visit with all comers on Wednesday afternoon from 2:30 – 5 at the Elko Convention Center.  You can learn how to make a rabbit fur blanket, churn butter, start a fire with flint and steel, shoot black powder weapons, weave a willow basket, spin wool, and much more.  Rumor has it that Jim Bridger, a Pony Express rider, and a member of the Mormon Battalion will be among the crowd.

If you want to stay out of the sun and hear about Sarah Winnemucca, Shoshone life, Cherokee on the Hastings Cutoff, or tales from students who are walking the trail in early September, the Chinese Railroad workers from the emigrant era, the early days of the Studebaker wheelbarrow, the Mormon Battalion, or the Forlorn Hope Trail Run, there is plenty of opportunity for that as well.

Don’t miss the opportunity presented by the Oregon California Trails Association National Convention – tours, speakers, reenactors and demonstrations.  It is a great way to enjoy what Elko has to offer and to dabble in stories of the Old West.  For more information, visit: www.octa-trails.org.