Schedule of Activities


We have many activities during the year. The calendar linked below is the best way to find out information on what is happening on any particular month.


You do not need to be a member to join us on any of our trips. If you have an interest in the emigrant era, or just want to get away for the weekend and have fun with friendly folks, you are more then welcome.



For a calendar of our upcoming events, click here.


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Well, the final arrangements have been made for this April’s general meeting and banquet. You can click here for all the information on what will be happening over that weekend. Anyone with an interest in our organization, or in emigrant trails, is welcome to attend. If you’re not a member and wish to join in, contact us at:


twinfo(at)    Be sure to change the (at) to @


This promises to be a great weekend with lots of entertainment and Reno is a great place to visit.



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We are in the final planning stages for our 2017 field trips, but here’s what’s happening.


June 9-11 = Work trip with the BLM near the entrance to High Rock Canyon.
We’ll be metal detecting and checking the actual route of the Applegate/Lassen Trail between Fly Canyon and High Rock Canyon. We’ll be using metal detectors to locate evidence of the trail, photographing and recording finds, and working with BLM archaeologists on Friday and Saturday.


June 23-25 = Install new markers on the Applegate trail in Oregon.
We’ll start a few miles south of Ashland, Oregon and end near Grants Pass, Oregon and install ten markers.


July 12-15 = Fun trip on the second half of the Lassen Trail.
We’ll be continuing on from where we left off last year. Start at Bogard Rest Area on Hwy 44 and end at Vina/Los Molinos, Calif. on Hwy 99 where we will visit a winery, museum and the Lassen Rancho. We are tentatively planning a hike down to Steep Hollow and back.


Sept 8-10 = Second half of new markers on the Applegate Trail in Oregon.
Start near Grants Pass, Oregon and end near Wolf Creek, Oregon and install eight markers.


Sept. 15-17 = Fun trip to follow the Hastings Cutoff.
We’ll start near Bidwell Pass, north of Wendover, Utah and end west of Elko at the BLM California Trail Interpretive Center. There will be a pre-tour trip to the Donner Spring area on Sept. 14.


On our work trips, we can always use help and it’s an outstanding way for anyone to contribute to preserving our western heritage and having a great time too. Don’t let the work party name scare you off from attending, the work is easy and we always need note takers, photographers and “superintendents” – no experience necessary.
Our fun trips are just that. We follow an emigrant trail, view actual trail traces, and an historian will talk about what went happened on specific sections of the trail. If you’re even thinking of attending one of these, let us know as that will put you on the mailing list for more on that trip’s information as it becomes available. It is best to email our trip coordinator at the email below.




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Our July Lassen trip went off without a hitch. We had a good size group and spent three days traveling the first half of the trail and saw some great country, had a fantastic potluck dinner (as usual) and got special access to a private ranch which has some undisturbed sections of trail on it. We also spent half of a day having to do some pretty serious four wheeling as some of the “roads” hadn’t been driven in years and had wash outs and fallen trees on them. Good thing everyone paid attention to the vehicle requirements mandated by our trip leader.
I had prepared a write up of the trip to be posted here, but our newsletter editor absconded with it and said he had first dibs for putting it in the upcoming issue of The Marker. Sorry….


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Well, our 2016 banquet is over and it came off without a hitch thanks to many members’ efforts.
The weekend started out with the Friday morning Board meeting where our Board zipped through a long list of pressing items. There was a good turnout of members to take part in the proceedings, make comments and partake of the lunch.
Our election ballots were counted and, as members know, there were three vacancies for the Board and only two candidates. There was no surprise as the two candidates were reelected but three other members received votes as write-ins. A long time member, Bob Carlton, received the majority of the write-in votes and is our newest Board member. Welcome Bob and we look forward to some new blood and fresh ideas to guide us in the coming years.


That evening the social was a big hit with the firearm display of nineteen antique guns spanning the period of 1803 to 1873.


Springfield RiflesThe Springfield Rifles


Firearm DisplaySome of the Other Firearms


There were some replicas, but most were original pieces with some actually having been carried across the country by emigrants.


The food – wow! The club provided hors d’oeuvres were more than enough to go around. Matter of fact, the food went way beyond appetizers. Most everyone stayed late and made it count as dinner. The no host bar did a brisk business too. What a great way to start the festivities.


hors d'oeuvres TableA Few of the hors d”oeuvres


On Saturday, there were two workshops available to keep us all busy. In the morning, our vice president, Ken Johnston, put on a great session on Peter Lassen and exposed some of the facts and fables concerning the life and times of this famous pioneer. It was very well received and we even had some non-members travel many hours just to partake. They were enthusiastic enough with the quality of the workshop that they became new members. That’s the sign of a great workshop!


In the afternoon, we had a very special lady from Oregon put on a presentation titled “They Wore That on the Trail?”


Marge HardingMarge Harding


She was in period dress and had many original items of clothing, some of which actually were worn by women traveling on the trails. Her presentation covered everything from the “unmentionables” to outerwear for women, men and children.


Marge's ClothingMarge With Some of Her Period Clothing


Wow, it’s unbelievable what our ancestors put up with as fashion and respectability were so very important at the time. I’m sure they would be rolling over in their graves if they could see us now.


Saturday evening was the main event – our banquet. What a feast! The Sands Casino puts out some of the best banquet food in Reno. It’s amazing that they beat out what your webmaster has had at some of the biggest banquet places in town.


DinnerA Section of the Banquet Room


We had the usual silent auction and members got some great stuff at bargain prices. CB radio, brand new Stetson cowboy hat, books, pictures, etc.


AuctionSome of the Auction Items


After dinner there was a great presentation honoring Ralph and Sandy Theiss. They are the longest active original Trails West members in our outfit. They have been the backbone of our club for over forty years and we are seriously scrambling to fill their shoes.


Ralph & SandyRalph & Sandy Receiving a Very Special Award


 They will still be joining us on trips, but are finally getting to have time to enjoy some other pursuits. All we can say is THANK YOU Ralph and Sandy, you will be missed!!


John Rogers

As the awards wrapped up, our entertainment of the evening commenced. Member Lee Dummel did a living history presentation of John Rogers who was one of the two men that hiked out of, and returned to, Death Valley to rescue the Bennett-Arcane party who took a “short cut” while heading west to the gold fields in California.
They made out better than the ill-fated Donner party, but not by much. This route to California was never used again and Mr. Rogers was certainly a hero by making his historic trek to the L.A. area for supplies to bring back to the party that was starving in their basic camp in Death Valley. Lee is pretty much an expert in this area as he has traveled the entire route by 4×4, horseback and by foot where vehicle nor beast could travel. He had many photos he took showing the route and actual campsites along the way. It was a great                 Lee Dummel as John Rogers
and enthralling presentation.


On Sunday morning most of us met for breakfast in the banquet room to fill up for the road and say our goodbyes till next year. Actually, many of us will be getting together this summer on our work and fun trips. We got a lot of sign-ups for these trips over the weekend, but if you weren’t there, check around on this page for information on the trips and how to sign up. It’s a good idea to let us know even if you’re not sure if you can make it as it puts you on the mailing list for trip info.


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Here is a trip report on last years Trails West/ OCTA/BLM Survey


On June 11th through the 14th, the traditional annual Black Rock Archaeological and Trail Survey was held at Massacre Ranch, just north of Upper High Rock Canyon on the Applegate/Lassen Trail.[1] Our objectives this year, were to metal detect and confirm actual locations of trail sections between Upper High Rock Canyon, close to Bruff’s Singular Rock[2], through Massacre Ranch, and northeast to Emigrant Spring, and to locate wagon caches and a reported burial at Emigrant Spring.


[1] Trail buffs know the Lassen Trail starts at Goose Lake, but the Nevada state historians label the trail from Rye Patch Reservoir to Goose Lake as the Applegate/Lassen, because in 1849 it was labeled the “Lassen Cutoff.”
[2] In J. Goldsborough Bruff’s 1849 journal, he sketched and named the striking rock formation.


Don Buck and Ken Johnston arrived early to flag the trail sections to be metal detected and to try to locate the caches and grave. As they were looking for, and approaching, Emigrant Spring (a simulacrum of the description of Rabbit Hole Spring as described by the Applegates in 1846), a Sage Thrasher flew from the waterhole alerting them to its presence.
They were unable, though, to locate the wagon caches and Don couldn’t remember the exact location either; however, he had been on an archaeological test dig performed on the cache in July 1990.
By evening on Thursday, about thirty enthusiastic Trail Aficionados, Rut Nuts, Swale Gurus, and BLM Archaeologists began to arrive and set up their camps in the ample and luscious (for the Nevada Desert) Massacre Meadow and near the ranch house.
Friday, Kathy Ataman, the BLM Archaeologist in charge, led us to the site northwest of Bruff’s Singular Rock, that was earlier rumored to mark the graves of people murdered in the fictitious but legendary massacre. The rock structures turned out to be foundation walls for Army officers’ tents.
After lunch, Chuck Dodd took us to Emigrant Spring and explained about the wagon caches and the alleged grave that Joseph Middleton described in his journal on Oct. 4, 1849, as having seen “A grave Dan Wheeler a coloured man died Sept. 23d, 1849.” In spite of the map we had of the area showing a grave site, Chuck explained that Middleton, on the following day of Oct. 5, 1849 corrected himself and wrote: The grave of Dan Wheeler, is what in this wilderness is called a cache—French for a hiding place: It contains hid the articles of an entire wagon…” Chuck explained that often caches were disguised as graves to fool other people. Chuck then showed us the depression where the 1990 archaeological excavation had taken place. Interestingly, John Grebenkemper, Adela Morris, John Carnes, and Barbara Pence used their Historic Human Remains Detection Dogs to test the area around the site and also a couple of suspected graves near the earlier officer tent site. The dogs confirmed that there were no burials as had been suspected. Adela and Barbara later did a captivating presentation and demonstration of how their dogs work and locate remains.


Adela Morris and Barbara Pence demonstrating Human Remains Detection DogsAdela and Barbara demonstrating Human Remains Detection Dogs


Ryan and Elaina Nork with wagon hub ring


Saturday we continued metal detecting trail segments and found horse and mule shoes, an ox shoe, part of a knife blade, many square nails and a couple wagon staples, a metal button, a musket ball, a metal ring from a wagon wheel hub, and some stone projectile points.





Ryan and Elaina with wagon hub


So, our work on the trails increased our knowledge of the trail locations, and the detection dogs found no evidence of buried bodies in the “Massacre Lake” area.
Peggy McGuckian and her scrumptious chili relleno cassarole



Saturday evening the Dutch oven potluck was an indescribable highlight, featuring Kathy Ataman’s Dutch oven meatloaf and Dutch oven stew, Peggy McGuckian’s Dutch oven chili relleno casserole, and David Book’s Dutch oven Chipotle Crème Chicken, which he calls “Massacre Chicken,” and all the other delicious contributions. The annual survey potluck is reason in itself for coming to the survey, and we heartily look forward to next year’s outing in the Black Rock Area.




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During the year, we usually have several one day trips to do marker maintenance and move markers to better locations. If you would like to be advised of when these are happening, contact our Trail Activity Coordinator at the email address below.





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We could use your help!!


With all the markers we have out on the trails, many of them are getting to where they need maintenance work. Attached here is an updated PDF version of our Inspection Report form that can be printed out and it would be a great help if anyone out on a trail would take a copy along and fill it out as they pass by a marker. It would also be a big help if you would fill it out even if a marker is fine. That way we’ll know that someone won’t need to make a special trip to check it. Here is a Word version of the form that you should be able to fill out on your computer and then attach to an email back to us at:


Be sure and change the (at) to @
Thanks, this would be a big help in our continuing efforts to maintain our markers.


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We, as an organization, have certain responsibilities on our outings. Because of that, we have developed a set of Rules & Requirements that each participant must adhere to when joining us on one of our trips. You may review them by clicking here.

If you do not have the type of necessary vehicle and are still interested in joining us on a trip, please contact the trip leader. Many times there will be room in someone else’s rig and arrangements can be made to accommodate an extra passenger.