Saturday, July 21, 2012


Yesterday Mom was gone for hours and hours, but finally she came home.  And what she was doing was she was practicing to be a tour guide for the Oregon-California Trails Association convention that will be in August.  This is the same convention that Mom has been doing all the spreadsheets for.  When this convention is over with, we will have survived the worst part of The Year From Hell, and we hope we can have a normal life again!

Mom sets out on the Trail
Anyway, it wasn't just the Oregon Trail that Mom went on yesterday.  It was also the California Trail and the Santa Fe Trail.  All of these trails started out here in the Kansas City area, and they all started from the Missouri River.  So it depended on where you got off the steamboat which route of the trail you took, and the main routes were the Independence Route and the Westport Route.  Mom is supposed to be a guide on the bus tour for the Independence Route, so that is what she was practicing yesterday.

Luckily, Mom took her camera along, and she made a bunch of pictures for me to use in my blog.  So now I am going to show you the pictures and tell you about them.

One of many informative trail markers
This first one is a historical marker on the bluff above the Independence river landing.  The real landing isn't there anymore, and you can't even go down to the river to see where it used to be.  So the best you can do is read a bunch of markers.  But the people who go on these tours seem to like reading markers and also taking pictures of them, so that's good.

The Missouri River, which you can
just barely see past the tops of the trees
A butterfly bush
Anyway, after going to that place where you can't see the river very well, the tour goes to downtown Independence, and the bus kind of winds around through the streets and past the courthouse.  The tour guides will talk about President Harry S Truman, who lived in Independence for many years, except not so much while he was busy being the president in Washington D.C.  Also, the guides will talk about how people bought wagons and oxen and supplies in Independence to get ready to go west.

This house has nothing to do with the Trails.
Mom just thinks it is pretty.
Mom didn't really take any pictures in Independence, except for that one of the house.  Mostly, she was too busy looking at street signs and trying to figure out where to turn and stuff like that.

Rice-Tremonti House
This is a house a few miles from Independence where some of the travelers stopped and camped for the night.  You can see the cabin in the background where the family slave, Aunt Sophie, lived.

The Santa Fe Trail signs were only put up
a few years ago.
One of the things that people who study the Trails really like to look at are swales.  A swale is a low place in the ground that still shows where all the hundreds of wagons and oxen went over the land and wore it down.  There aren't very many swales left around here because they all got paved over or plowed up or had buildings put on top of them.  But there are still swales left in a few places.  It's hard to take pictures of them because they are not deep, sharp ruts like you might see out west, but Mom did her best.

This is how some swales look from the bottom of the hill.
It's a little easier to see them if you look down the hill,
especially where the grass got mowed.

Another trail marker

Some metal cutouts on a hill near a school

A boarded-up house that has nothing to do with the Trail

The first river that the wagon trains had to cross was the Big Blue.  In those days, there was no bridge, and sometimes the river was high and fast and hard to cross.  Later on, a bridge got built, and it was called Red Bridge, because it was red.  A year or so ago, a brand new Red Bridge was built, and it is very pretty and modern-looking, but it's not very red.

The new Red Bridge
The new bridge has a bunch of pictures of famous pioneer types of people.

Kit Carson
Here is the old Red Bridge.  It will be used for a hiking and biking trail.

The old Red Bridge

In my opinion, the Big Blue River does not look big, and it doesn't look blue.  In the spring, when there is a lot of rain, the river can get big and it can even flood.  But right now, with the drought going on, it does not look very big.  It would be pretty easy to cross it with a wagon now, but what would be even easier would be to just drive your wagon across one of the two Red Bridges.

Back before the new Red Bridge got built, if there was a train coming, you had to wait for it to go by before you could drive across the tracks.  But the new bridge goes over the train tracks and also the river, so there is no more waiting.

A very long freight train
While Mom was standing on the new Red Bridge, a train came along, and Mom took a couple of pictures of it.

Graffiti on the train.
I hope it doesn't say something nasty!
After Mom went to the Red Bridge, she just stopped at one more place, and it was a little cemetery.  This cemetery is in a place that used to be called New Santa Fe.  Now there is nothing much left of this little town, except for the cemetery.  Of course, Mom thinks cemeteries are interesting, so she took several pictures.

This is maybe Mom's favorite grave ever in any cemetery.  We wish we knew the story of the horse thief, but we don't.  Probably what happened was that some man was trying to steal a horse or a bunch of horses, and he got shot while he was doing it.  But then nobody knew who he was, so the only thing they could put on his gravestone was "The Horse Thief."  It's kind of sad that a person has to be known forever by this one thing he did, and not by his name or age or anything else.

Here's a grave of a Confederate soldier who was in a sharp shooter unit.

And here's a woman whose first name was Missouri, which seems a little odd.

These 3 children didn't even have names, probably because they all died when they were born.

And this stone might be the saddest of all, because of all the hopes that got buried.

Okay, well, I don't have any more photos to show you because Mom got tired of doing the tour thing, so she came home and took a nap instead of finishing it.  Now she will have to go out next week and do the last part.  I don't know if she's going to take her camera or not, but if she does, I might have more photos to show you.


  1. Hello Dear Piper. I have never gone to Oregon before. Infact, I've never gone to the US. I just dropped by to say hi. Good luck on your mom's tour guide duties.

    I kind of like the grave and the house as well.

    Huggies and Cheese,


    1. Dear Haopee,
      It's nice to hear from you! I'm glad you liked my blog. I haven't been to Oregon either, and neither has Mom, although one time she was in Seattle. But it's in Washington instead of Oregon.
      Take care!