The Oregon- California Trails Association, is an organization dedicated to the preservation, appreciation and enjoyment of all transmigration trails to the west, the trails that made the United States an ocean-to-ocean nation.

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Email for the Members Only Password  – canvocta@gmail.com

2018 Activities

Annual Fernley Swales Cleanup – September 22, 2018

Second from right is Roy Edgington, mayor of Fernley

Tom Fee with Rachael Crews, BLM archeologist, who helped set up this year’s cleanup with Jon Nolan

The annual cleanup event in Fernley was part of the celebration of National Public Lands Day, Sept. 22.

National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort to protect public lands.




The historic site, located just north of Fernley, has been listed as one of Nevada’s most endangered historic places.

A Hike to Historic Stephens Pass  –  October 7, 2018

Join us for a hike of Stephens Pass, the first and most dramatic of all the emigrant Sierra passes.  The trail crosses Donner Pass Road three times on its way up to Lake Angela, about 500 yards north of Donner Summit.  The hike will begin at 9:00 AM on October 7, 2018.   The hike is beautiful and many signs of the trail still exist.  Maybe you can find additional traces.

Stephens pass was first used in 1844 by the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy party and was used through 1846.  However, usage dropped quickly after the discovery of Roller Pass a few miles to the south.  Diary entries record that the ascent was very difficult and could take days to accomplish.  You can read more about the pass and the search for the pass in an article by Don Buck the most recent Overland Journal (v36.2 Summer 2018).  We will also look for the proposed location of the so-called “Starved Camp” of some of the Donner Party survivors as they made their way toward safety.  This camp is also discussed in the most recent Overland Journal in an article by John Grebenkemper.

DIRECTIONS:  We will meet at the parking lot on top of Donner Pass (where Donner Pass Road reaches its highest point).  From Reno take Interstate 80 west to Donner Pass Road (exit 184).  Continue west on Donner Pass Road past Donner Lake and up the hill for 7 miles to a cluster of building at the very top of the pass.  Turn left into the parking lot.  Parking should be available at the top of the pass. From Sacramento, take Interstate 80 to the Norden/Soda Springs exit (exit 174) and drive about 3.8 miles east past Sugar Bowl on the right and Donner Ski Ranch on the left.  Then then turn right into the parking lot at the very top of the pass.

Email David Fullerton at dfullertond@netscape.net if you wish to participate in the hike, listing how many people will be in your party and your cell phone contact information.  He will send you additional information about the hike prior to the date.

Field Day –  Carson Route –  October 3, 2018

On Wednesday, October 3rd, the California-Nevada Chapter has scheduled a field day to verify segments of the Carson Trail between Carson Pass and Caples Lake.  A Tree Hazard Removal project is planned for this area along Highway 88 that could impact the Carson Trail.  The trees to be removed have already been identified so we have specific areas that need to be verified.

Also, there are segments of various trails that have been verified but not classed to MET standards.  If you would like to walk the trails and help determine the MET classification so the pristine segments can be protected your help would be appreciated.  This wouldn’t be brisk hiking as determining what class to give a segment usually requires discussion.  Dates and locations of these leisurely hikes can be determined by participants.

For more MET Classification information, checkout this section of the OCTA MET Manual


If you are interested in either of these activities, please email the Chapter at canvocta@gmail.com

Fifth Annual Heritage Day – John Marsh House
Marsh Creek State Park, Brentwood, California
October 20, 2018

John Marsh House

The Fifth Annual Heritage Day will be celebrated Saturday, October 20 on the grounds of the John Marsh House in Marsh Creek State Park, Brentwood, CA. This is a large celebration of California and local history, as well as current and ongoing activities. Upwards of 2,000 attendees are expected from 10 am to 4 pm; admission is free.

OCTA has been invited to staff an information table publicizing our ongoing efforts to protect the emigrant trails of the nineteenth century, with especial emphasis on those leading to California. Dr Marsh’s Los Meganos rancho was the terminus of the Bidwell-Bartleson party in 1841, the first wagon train headed to California. His letters back to Missouri were instrumental in convincing people to join him. Among the displays to be featured by state park staff are maps and details of the party’s trek. This is a great opportunity to increase our exposure in this part of California, and perhaps gain a few new members.

Marsh Creek State Park is California’s newest–and largest–state park. The Marsh home is the focal point of the historic aspect of this multi-featured property. It is situated on the northeast foot of Mt Diablo along Marsh Creek in a rapidly developing area of the East Bay, Contra Costa County

The address is 21789 Marsh Creek Road, Brentwood, CA 94513. It is about a 25-mile drive from Stockton (I-5) via Hwy 4, across the San Joaquin River delta islands  It is also reachable from I-580 in Tracy via Byron Road (County Rd J4). From further north and west, Hwy 4 east from I-80 and I-680 in Contra Costa County. (For the avid sightseers, Hwy 160 from Sacramento along the Sacramento River, connects to Hwy 4 just west of Brentwood.)

We encourage members and friends to visit this unique area and learn about its place in California history. We especially need about 6 volunteers for 2-hour shifts at the OCTA information table. To sign up or ask questions, please contact Bob Evanhoe: <yreka98bob@yahoo.com>, cell/text 530.598.7068, home 530.842.5563

To volunteer and ask questions, please contact Bob Evanhoe;  Email <yreka98bob@yahoo.com>    Cell/text 530.598.7068   Home 530-842.5563

2019 Spring Symposium

California Nevada OCTA Chapter Symposium
Save the Date!
April 26, 27, 28, 2019

The 2019 chapter symposium is in the early planning stages.  The location will be historic San Juan Bautista, California, and the theme will be “After the Tragedy.”  We will talk about the survivors of the Donner Party:  who survived, what happened to them, where they went, how their family prospered or did not.  We chose San Juan Bautista because the Breen family went there immediately after their rescue.  Although San Juan Bautista is a very small community (population 1700) they are rich in history.  We will visit the mission, the Castro-Breen adobe, the cemetery, Fremont Peak and the De Anza Trail.  If none of that interests you, this little community has a downtown area worth the trip by itself, with old adobes and numerous wine and gift venues along with several antiques shops.  Mark your calendars and make your plans!  Specifics and reminders will follow through email and Trail Talk.

Roller Pass Hike – Truckee River Route

The Roller Pass Hiking Group

The hike to Roller Pass on July 15th was a great success.  It was over six miles, up and down,  round trip but it was worth it!

Looking Down Roller Pass




Seeing yet another amazing feat accomplished by the emigrants was incredible.

The Later Alternative Route

Our thanks to CA-NV member David Fullerton for his well planned leadership and informative narrative during the hike.



It was a steep trail all the way up to the pass.


For more information about upcoming activities email the Chapter at canvocta@gmail.com


CA-NV Chapter OCTA
 Meeting and Symposium

April 27, 28 and 29th, 2018
Fernley and Fallon, Nevada

Looking east on the 40 Mile Desert

Saturday included three speakers.  Bill Adams shared his experiences leading wagon trips across the 40 Mile Desert. Ron Bell spoke about the Pony Express Association in Nevada and Ken Johnston presented a new theory about  Peter Lassen, J. Goldsborough Bruff  and the discovery of the Nobles Trail.



Sunday morning those attending had  a choice of  touring  the Naval Air Station at Fallon Top-Gun School or a tour of  sites on the 40 Mile Desert.




Petroglyph at Grimes Point

The afternoon was spent at Grimes Point Archaeology Site and a tour of Hidden Cave.

Inside Hidden Cave


Dick Young  

Dick Young

Richard (Dick) Carroll Young, 85, of Yuba City, passed away August 6, 2017. He was born in Sacramento to Anne and Jacob Young and graduated from CK McClatchy High School. He married Joan Bosworth in 1954, graduated from UNR in Civl Engineering to begin his 38 year career at Division of Highways/CalTrans.

During his life, Dick presided as Mayor of Yuba City and President of Lake Tahoe Historical Society, Barton Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and El Dorado County STAR at So. Lake Tahoe.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joan Young; children, Sharon Wonder, Peter Young, Christina Estabrook; 5 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren and two cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to: Barton Memorial Hospital Foundation, 2170 South Avenue, SLT, CA 96150 or South Lake Tahoe Historical Society, 3058 Lake Tahoe Blvd., SLT, CA 96150 or Oregon California (emigrant) Trails Association, 524 S. Osage Street, Independence, MO 64050.

A Celebration Life will be held at St. Andrew Church, Sunday, October 29, 2017 from 1-4 pm.

Published in Appeal Democrat from Aug. 19 to Sept. 18, 2017

Reno Gazette-Journal   August 8, 2017

Preserving history: Saving the Fernley Swales