Chapter History

Chapter History

The CALIFORNIA – NEVADA CHAPTER, which is one of eleven chapters of the Oregon-California Trails Association, was formed in 1986. The purpose of the chapter is to study, explore, map, mark, maintain, and preserve the historic trails and sites within the California Trails system. The chapter vigorously supports legislation to preserve emigrant trails.

The Chapter

  • Conducts field trips each year along various routes in Nevada and California:
  • Places markers dedicating emigrant graves, such as the Alford Family grave, the Susan Coon grave, and the graves at Gravelly Ford.
  • Holds dedication ceremonies and installs markers.
  • Co-sponsors field trips with other OCTA chapters to explore and maintain various trails, works closely with the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and Trails West – a trails marking organization.
  • Holds annual Spring Symposiums.
  • Publishes Trail Talk, the chapter newsletter, quarterly to inform the members of activities and other items of interest.

History by Mary Mueller

Early Chapter History

The CA/NV chapter was formalized in 1986. In balloting conducted by mail between June and August, the chapter membership voted to organize and elect a five-member board of directors. Frank Tortorich was elected to be President. The first issue of Trail Talk was printed in 1987 and the report of the first chapter membership meeting was held August 19, 1986, at the convention in Carson City. It appears that the board agreed to meet separately in January for planning and to schedule the (business) membership meeting in April.
[Vol.1.No.1, page 1.]

About Symposiums

Judy Allen was the CA-NV Chapter president. It was she who suggested the members should plan symposiums for the Outings and Activities calendar. Don Buck and Dave Johnson responded to the call by planning the first symposium, fashioned from the successful symposiums initiated by the Southwest Chapter. The first in the CA-NV chapter was a one-day program with speakers. After the successful symposium in Cupertino, the subsequent meetings have evolved into mini-convention style with more days, more speakers, a banquet, awards presentation, board meeting, membership meeting, workshops and field trips. They have been held in Cupertino, Jackson, San Jose, Zzyzx, Sonora, Nevada City, Reno, Mariposa, Redding , Stockton, Temecula, Placerville, Eureka, and Lemoore. The 15th symposium will meet in Genoa, on April 24-25, 2005.
Searching Trail Talk from Vol. 1-66


March 20-21 – Lemoore
The 14th Symposium was planned by Steve Emanuels, Lower Kings River Historical Society, assisted by Bob Iverson and Mary Mueller. Speakers told about the Rhoads family, the history of the area, dedication of OCTA’s plaque with the history of Daniel Rhoads at the family Cemetery, and tour of the Rhoads Adobe. Evening Barbecue and entertainment on a ranch near the Rhoads Adobe. The board meeting was held on Friday evening, attended by a few members. Tom Fee presented awards in a general membership meeting.


April 4-6 – Eureka
The 13th Symposium was planned by Tom Hunt and Fran Taplin, held at College of the Redwoods with speakers. A banquet held at Ingomar Club showcased the Awards presentations. Breakfast at Samoa Cookhouse.
General business was conducted during the symposium day.


January 19-20 – Placerville
The 12th Symposium was held at Best Western Placerville Inn. Ellen and Ford Osborn planned a full day of speakers on subjects of Pony Express, Mining, California Indians, and Fremont. At the evening banquet, Frank Tortorich spoke about “John Augustus Sutter, the man and the Myth.” Tom Fee presented awards to Tom Hunt, to Chuck Graydon (posthumous), Pat Loomis, Viginia Hammerness and Gene and Eisal Brantley
Chapter board and general meetings were held and updated information on the Reno 2002 Convention.
No General Membership meeting for the spring.


March 10-11 – Temecula
The 11th Symposium was presented by Joan Hinchcliff, without a committee. She made all the arrangements for meetings, catering and speakers. On Sunday field trips by bus. (Trail Talk, No. 51, April 21, p.10)
The board met, without a quorum.
There was no membership meeting.


February 26-27 – Stockton
The 10th Symposium was held at the Radisson Hotel Stockton. Chairman Bob Shellenberger planned an outstanding day with six speakers with entertainment at lunch and entertainment at the Dinner Buffet by musicians Mike Bennett and Wayne Shrope and The Sierra Sidekicks.


February 19-20-2 1- Redding
The 9th Symposium, planned by Charlie and Nola Little, was held at the Double Tree Hotel, in Redding. The lives of two important pioneers, Major Pierson B. Reading and William B. Ide were discussed during the all-day meeting. Tom Hunt spoke on the Nobles Trail and Dick Silva spoke on the Oregon to California Road. The attendees heard about the archeological “dig” conducted in Old Shasta and later visited the site the next day. A visit to the reconstructed Ide Adobe included coffee and Dutch oven biscuits offered by costumed docents. (Trail Talk, No. 43, April 1999, p.7)


February 7-8 – Mariposa
The 8th Symposium planned by Bill and Shann Rupp was held at Best Western facilities in Mariposa. It was a successful meeting on a wet and rainy day. Speakers spoke about “Polk’s Secret Orders-or The Politically Inspired Gold Rush.” “The Golden Years: Fremont and Mariposa, 1849-1864”; “The Influence of Jesse Fremont”; and “Mariposa Miners and Yosemite. A banquet and entertainment were held in the same facilities. ( Trail Talk, number 39, April 1998, p. 10, 18)


February 8 – Nevada City
The 6th Symposium was planned by Mary Ann and Jim McClain with Jim Rose. The meeting was held in the brand new Elks Lodge where the lunch and banquet were prepared by Women of the Lodge. The speakers told about Hydraulic mining, hardrock mining, archaeology of the Donner Campsite, about Grass Valley and Nevada City and Jim Rose presented a slide show about the Nevada City Cutoff. (Trail Talk, Number 35, April 1997, p.11)
No General Membership meeting in the Spring.

October 4-5 – Reno
The 7th Symposium was organized by Chuck Dodd to explore the relationship between OCTA and the BLM at the headquarters in Reno. The one day meeting was to discuss three topics: Understanding the BLM; the status of “Current Issues”, i.e, the Burning Man, the land speed record attempts, a proposed land swap on the 40 Mile Desert, mining activities at Iron Point, and a proposed mining operation in Rosebud Canyon (Applegate Trail); what are OCTA’s Responsibilities? (How OCTA can help and is helping) A field trip will be held the next day. (Trail Talk, number 34, July 1997, p.5; number 38, January 1998, p.8).


February 17-18 – Sonora
The 5th Symposium was held at the Old Opera House, Sonora. A brief business meeting was held at lunchtime. Shann and Bill Rupp arranged for the symposium and the dedication of a monument to the Emigrant Terminous of the Sonora Rd. It was a joint effort with E Clampus Vitus. (Trail Talk, No.31, April 1996, pages 2,4,8)
No General Membership meeting in the Spring.


February 18-19 – Auburn
General Membership meeting was held at the Elks Lodge in Auburn. Jim Rose, Chuck Dodd, Don Buck and Dick Davis planned the program about preservation.. Jim Rose assisted in planning for the facilities with meals for both days. A panel discussion was was conducted on Sunday morning.

April 8-9
The fourth symposium, Southern Trails, met at Zzyzx Studies Center, near Baker. Neal John planned a full week of field trips and lectures to call attention to the historic trails crossing the desert near Baker. The trips were on the Mojave Road, Old Mormon Trail, Cajon Pass Trails and The Bradshaw Road. (Trail Talk, No. 28, July 1995, p.16, p. 4)
A general membership meeting was planned and advertised for June 3-4 in Reno which was canceled.
October 21-22 – Jamestown
The two-day retreat for the board was held at the home of Bill and Shann Rupp. The hosts provided lunch and dinner and entertainment.


February 5-6 – Placerville
A General Membership Meeting was held in February at the Placerville Fairgrounds with planning by Tom Mahach. It included speakers all day with lunch provided. The evening banquet was held in a small restaurant, exclusive for OCTA. The speaker was John Townley of Reno. An optional self directed field trip was offered on Sunday morning.
April 16-17 – San Jose
The third Symposium was held at the Italian Gardens near downtown San Jose. Despite the confusion with several announcements naming it a “mini-convention” and “10th anniversary of the chapter” it was well attended. George Hesse and Pat Loomis organized the meeting. Jim Rose spoke and showed his slides about the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy- Party. On Saturday there were other speakers in the morning, with tours to the cemetery and historic buildings in downtown San Jose. A banquet and speakers were held in the evening.
The general membership meeting was held Sunday morning with a continental breakfast at the community center in New Almaden. Lunch and a field trip were held at Quicksilver County Park on Mine Hill, New Almaden. (Trail Talk, No. 24, June 1994, p.1,3)
October 29 – Auburn
The board met for a one-day fall retreat for a meeting and lunch at Norman Wilson’s home in Auburn.


February 27 – Santa Rosa
The General Membership meeting was held in facilities of Sonoma County School Department arranged by OCTA member, Larry Mitchell. The all day meeting featured speakers and evening banquet with a speaker. Gene Brantley and Mary Mueller organized the program speakers, lodging and banquet. Baldwin and Ormie Lamson were asked to review the by-laws and to develop the new guidelines.
April 24-25 – Jackson
The second Symposium was planned by Mary Ann and Frank Tortorich. There were speakers for the meeting and at the banquet.. A COED Workshop met on Sunday morning. (Trail Talk, No. 19, April 1993)
August 11 – Baker City, OR
At the general membership meeting the new by-laws were adopted by the largest delegation in attendance, 206 members of the chapter,
November 6-7 – Roseville
The third retreat was called by President George Hesse for the board to meet in Roseville where motel facilities were arranged for a conference room.


January 25 – Cupertino
At DeAnza College, Don Buck and Dave Johnson, launched the first Symposium with the focus on Bidwell-Bartleson party. The group met in the California History Center for speakers and lunch.
June 26-2 8 – Alturas
The general membership meeting and banquet was held in Alturas in the evening. Dedication of Lassen grave near Susanville was held in the afternoon. On Sunday, a field trip was led by Tom Hunt and Dick Silva on the Applegate/ Yreka Trail.

August 12 – Rock Springs, OCTA convention
Chapter membership meeting with 100 members in attendance. President George Hesse took suggestions from the floor concerning what the chapter wants to see happen in 1993. The results:
* More surveyors for COED
* Concern over the deterioration of the John Marsh mansion in San Joaquin county
* Continue marking the California Trail from Thousand Springs Valley in carsonite markers; Improve the selection process for the chapter board
* Create a Speakers Bureau.
* A need for more markers on Ebbett’s Pass
* Because the California Trail is now a part of National Historic Trails, Tom Hunt said a complete inventory is needed-pictures, paperwork, etc. Contact Tom if interested in doing a segment; More general membership meetings.

October 31-November 1 – Calaveras
The second board retreat was held at the same location as last year.


February 17-18 – El Monte, CA
The general membership meeting in El Monte Museum was the first southern California location since the chapter was organized. A field trip on Sunday was led by Neal Johns to explore parts of the Salt Lake City to southern California and Old Spanish Trails.
August 16 – Sacramento OCTA convention
The board meeting and a general membership meeting were held there.
September 28 – Santa Cruz
Eighty five members met for dedication of an OCTA plaque to mark the grave of Grove Cook, a member of the 1841 Bidwell-Bartleson party. A general membership meeting was held after lunch. President Judy Allen led the group in a lively discussion of activities which the chapter might pursue in 1991-92.

The following list includes the topics of most interest and concern for members:
* More leadership development within the chapter.
* A chapter brochure for membership roster to be included in an issue of Trail Talk
* More chapter participation in COED.
* More publicity for COED; review purpose more often.
* An in- depth looks at our chapter organization: how do we involve more members? geographical representation? advisory groups? sub-committees? sub-chapter?
* Representation on the National Board.
* More outing leaders.
* Increased chapter efforts in preservation.
* Passing the national Historic Trails Act: send message to Congress; lobby; write OCTA legislation committee; send delegation to lobby in D.C.
* Clearly define how we feel about the relationship between preservation and development.

October 26-27 – Near Calaveras Big Trees
The first board retreat was a two day meeting with the board and a few committee chairs for both days. The work was to prioritize the “needs” which were gleaned from the brain storm session in Santa Cruz. Dave and Lisa Johnson invited the group to stay at their cabin.
January 20 – Coloma
The board and general membership met with planning updates and committee assignments for the 1991 convention in Sacramento.
May 5-6 – Dayton-Fallon
The general membership meeting was headquartered in Fallon for a banquet and slide show. Field trips were conducted from Carson City, to Gold Canyon, near Dayton on Saturday, and the Sonora route on Sunday.

August 12 – Omaha OCTA convention
Chapter membership meeting was held.
September 28 – Sacramento
President Judy Allen held a board meeting to welcome new board members, shifted responsibilities and made assignments.


January 21 – Sacramento
The board met with the membership to begin planning for the 1991 Convention.

May 27-28 – Winnemucca
The general membership meeting was held in Winnemucca, with social hour and dinner and two days of field work. Tours east on the California trail to Beowawe with OCTA plaque dedication and fencing of the graves. The next day west on the trail for a dedication at the Susan Coon grave with some of her descendants in attendance.
August 11 – Boise OCTA convention
Chapter membership meeting


January 16 – Livermore
The board met in Livermore and approved a change to schedule the general membership meeting later in the spring for the best time of the year for outings.
May 13-15 – Alturas
A large audience of members attended for a general membership meeting, a banquet and two field trips in car caravans east and west on the Lassen/Applegate Trail.
August 10 – St. Joseph OCTA Convention
Chapter board and membership meeting were held at the convention. td>


January 17 – Stockton
The board met in Stockton. They planned for a general membership meeting and field trip in the spring. The field trip associated with the business meeting would assure a large audience.

April 4 – Sacramento
The general membership meeting was held in the facilities of The Wonder Bread Company, hosted by Jack Steed. The field trip to Johnson’s Rancho site, east of Wheatland, was led and narrated by Jack Steed.
August 12 – Casper OCTA Convention