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Pinedale Online > News > June 2009 > New Lander Trail Center opens in Afton

The Lander Trail Center. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
The Lander Trail Center
The new center is located at 140 West 1st Avenue in Afton, next to the Civic Center.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal and distinguished guests had the honor of cutting the ribbon to officially dedicate and open the new Lander Trail Center. Paul Scherbel Sr, from Big Piney, is on the far right.

Governor Freudenthal. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Governor Freudenthal
Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal was the special guest speaker at the dedication ceremony.

Dedication. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Dedication

More than 13,000 emigrants traveled the Lander Trail in 1859, its first year of use.

New Lander Trail Center opens in Afton
Big Piney resident Paul Scherbel significant contributor to the effort
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
June 6, 2009

Big Piney resident, Paul Scherbel Sr., was one of the distinguished guests at the Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new Lander Trail Center in Afton, Wyoming on Saturday, June 6th. The new center is the culmination of nearly two years of hard work by The Lander Trail Foundation, of Afton.

Wyoming Governor Dave Freuenthal attended as a special guest speaker for the dedication ceremony. Governor Freudenthal said, "I canít stress enough how incredibly important it is that we keep history alive." He said he thought TV and movies had sanitized the real story of life for people who traveled the Lander Trail on their way west, "taking away the physical and human drama of the people who settled this place." The Lander Trail saved seven days of travel for emigrants using the Oregon Trail to the Oregon. "These were ordinary people doing extraordinary things," Freudenthal said. "We have to remember the human part of history and not forget they lost lives along that trail."

The Center received support from corporate sponsors J.R. Simplot and ExxonMobil, the Lincoln County Commissioners, and Benefactors: T. Donald McCutcheon Jr. of Rock Springs, LeClercq L. Jones, and Paul Scherbel Sr.

Board of Directors of The Lander Trail Foundation are Jermy Wight, Larry A. Call, J. Steven Perry, Chad V. Jensen, and Daniel Dockstader.

The new Lander Trail Center is located at 140 West 1st Avenue, next to the Afton Civic Center.

The 252-mile long Lander Trail was a cutoff of the Oregon Trail. It begins in South Pass City, Wyoming, passes through Sublette County, through the Wyoming and Salt River mountain ranges into Star Valley, Wyoming, and ends at Fort Hall, Idaho. It was surveyed and built in 1857-58 by pioneer engineer Frederick W. Lander for the Department of the Interior. It is the only stretch of the Oregon Trail system to be subsidized and intentionally constructed as a road by the federal government. It was the first federally-funded "road" by the government, saving seven daysí travel for people traveling west. More than 13,000 emigrants traveled it in 1859, its first year of use. Portions of the trail are still passable today and many stretches are on public land, marked with historical signs and trail markers.

In July, 2008, Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso introduced Senate Resolution 623, which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary: "RECOGNIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ROLE OF THE LANDER TRAIL IN THE SETTLEMENT OF THE AMERICAN WEST ON THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LANDER TRAIL."

The Lander Trail Foundation was created in 2007 as a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the Lander Trail. One of their goals was to build a Lander Trail interpretive center in Afton, and they began fundraising immediately after forming their foundation. All donations to the Lander Trail  Foundation are tax deductible.

For more information contact Jermy Wight 307-883-2174:
The Lander Trail Foundation
PO Box 4135
Bedford, WY 83112
Jermy Wight 307-883-2174



Related Links
  • Lander Trail Foundation begins fundraising campaign - By Sarah Hale, The Star Valley Independent, October 25, 2007
  • Jermy Wight - Pinedale Online, May 18, 2007

  • Afton Civic Center. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Afton Civic Center
    Due to rain, the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held next door in the Afton Civic Center.

    Jermy Wight. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Jermy Wight
    Jermy Wight is an avid Lander Trail enthusiast. He has written and compiled the history of Frederick W. Lander and published a book on the subject entitled, "Frederick W. Lander and the Lander Trail."

    Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
    Governor Freudenthal, distinguished guests, and members of The Lander Trail Foundation cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the new Lander Trail Center.

    Lander Trail Center. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Lander Trail Center
    95 miles of the Lander Trail pass through Sublette County. It follows just north of Hwy 351 crosses through the Sublette County Fairgrounds just north of Big Piney / Marbleton. From there it goes through South Piney Creek canyon into the Wyoming Range and over into Star Valley. This new Lander Trail Center is located near the Trail in Afton.

    Mormon Memorial. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Mormon Memorial
    This memorial rock is located adjacent to the new Lander Trail Center. It is dedicated to the 47 men hired in Salt Lake City, Utah, to help build the Lander Road in 1858. The inscription reads, "Without their labor and industry, the Lander Road could not have been completed."

    Inside the Center. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Inside the Center
    There are displays and maps about the Lander Trail inside the new historical center.

    Research Library. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Research Library
    There is a new Research library inside the new Lander Trail Center. The Foundation has received very generous gifts of several personal book collections that will eventually be housed upstairs in the Center.

    Mingling. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Mingling
    Governor Freudenthal (far left) tours the new Lander Trail Center after the dedication ceremony.

    Contributors. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Contributors
    A plaque on the wall inside the Center commemorates the contributors who helped make the new Lander Trail Center in Afton possible.
    Pinedale Online > News > June 2009 > New Lander Trail Center opens in Afton

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