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Pinedale Online > News > June 2014 > Grand Opening of the Lander Trail-New Fork River Crossing Historical Park

Ribbon Cutting. Photo by Terry Allen.
Ribbon Cutting
Clint Gilchrist, President of the Sublette County Historic Preservation Board, cuts the red ribbon to open the new historical park. Founding partners who worked for the previous four years to help with making the park a reality stand with him. Photos by Terry Allen.

Dedication ceremony. Photo by Terry Allen.
Dedication ceremony

Food tent. Photo by Terry Allen.
Food tent
Grand opening attendees enjoyed a Dutch Oven campfire lunch with home-made biscuits and desserts. The Pinedale Lions Club helped with serving and preparing the lunch.

Trail into the new park. Photo by Terry Allen.
Trail into the new park
Grand Opening of the Lander Trail-New Fork River Crossing Historical Park
Interprets an emigrant river crossing site along the Lander Trail, part of the California-Oregon Trail used in the mid-1800s
by Pinedale Online! Photos by Terry Allen
June 25, 2014

The grand opening celebration of the new Lander Trail New Fork River Crossing Historical Park was held Saturday, June 21, 2014. A free lunch of campfire stew, home-made biscuits and desserts was served at noon. A ceremony to recognize contributions of partners was held after the lunch, ending with a ribbon cutting. Speakers included Don Simpson, State Director Wyoming BLM, Mary Hopkins, Wyoming State Historic Preservation Officer, Aaron Mahr, Director NPS National Trail Intermountain Region, Nancy Brown, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Travis Boley, Oregon-California Trails Association. After the ceremony, visitors enjoyed exploring the Park and information tables featuring emigrant artifacts recovered at the Park during archeological investigations in 2011 and 2012.

From 1859-1869 tens of thousands of emigrants used the Lander Cut-off trail through the upper Green River Valley on their way to Oregon and California. The trail is part of the national designated historic trail system of the California-Oregon Trails. After making the difficult river crossing, many emigrants stopped to camp at the park to rest themselves and their animals, and catch up on cooking, washing and chores. Numerous emigrant diary accounts talk about the river crossing and camping at the location of the new historical park.

Visitors now have a unique opportunity to experience the river setting much as emigrants encountered 150 years ago. Nine interpretive panels along a one-mile rustic nature trail focus on the daily lives of the emigrants in their own words using dozens of Lander Trail diary accounts. The park is owned and managed by the Sublette County Historical Society, parent organization of the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale.

The park has been developed by the Sublette County Historical Society with support of more than twenty federal, state, local, non-profit, corporate and private organizations. Thanks to unique agreements with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), purchase of the property was funded by donations from Shell, Ultra Resources, and PacifiCorp to mitigate impact of development on the setting of the Lander Trail through the Pinedale Anticline.

On Sunday, June 22 at 1pm, the National Park Service and Sublette County Historical Society hosted a charette at the Pinedale library to concept a phase II development plan. A draft of the plan was presented to the public on Wednesday, June 26 at 6pm at the Pinedale Library.

The Park is located on Paradise Road, 14 miles south of Hwy 191 from Boulder and one mile north of Highway 351. More information, directions and updates can be found at

Photos by Terry Allen

Related Links
  • New Fork Park Section 106 Success Story - Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
  • Agreements pave the way for historic New Fork River Crossing Park - September 30, 2010
  • Wyoming Conservation Corps helps with new historical park - May 30, 2011
  • Volunteers needed for New Fork Lander Trail park archaeology - September 19, 2012

  • Dedication ceremony. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Dedication ceremony

    Don Simpson. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Don Simpson
    Wyoming State Director of the Bureau of Land Management

    Operators. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Clint Gilchrist thanks representatives from Ultra Petroleum, Shell Oil and Pacific Power for making the new historical park possible.

    Pacific Corp. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Pacific Corp
    Larry Elcock represented Rocky Mountain Power-Pacific Power, which was one of the Founding Partners for the new park.

    Ultra Petroleum. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Ultra Petroleum
    Erika Tokarz represented Ultra Petroleum, one of the Founding Partners.

    Aaron Mahr - National Park Service. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Aaron Mahr - National Park Service
    The National Park Service contributed many hours of expertise to the creation and development of the new park. The NPS offers help anyone who wants to make segments of national historic trails accessible to the public.

    National Park Service. Photo by Terry Allen.
    National Park Service
    Clint Gilchrist thanks Kimberly Finch and Cory Kolisko for their help designing the park and interpretive signs.

    Mary Hopkins - SHPO. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Mary Hopkins - SHPO
    Historic Preservation Officer at the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

    SHPO. Photo by Terry Allen.
    The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was thanked as one of the Founding Partners whose help was invaluable in making the new park possible.

    Dave Crowley - BLM. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Dave Crowley - BLM
    Dave spoke on behalf of the BLM Pinedale Field Office about the long process from conception to making the park a reality.

    Travis Boley - OCTA. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Travis Boley - OCTA
    The Oregon California Trails Association (OCTA) was very helpful with the park historical research.

    Nancy Brown. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Nancy Brown
    Nancy Brown, with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, spoke about the significance of the new historic park to preserve and educate about our cultural heritage.

    Thank you Nancy. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Thank you Nancy
    Nancy Brown, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

    AHW. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Andrea Graham attended the New Fork Park opening for Alliance for Historic Wyoming.

    Sublette County. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Sublette County
    Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman and Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford were thanked by Clint Gilchrist for the County's contributions.

    Historical Society. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Historical Society
    Sam Drucker accepts the plaque on behalf of the Sublette County Historical Society.

    USU Archaeological Services. Photo by Terry Allen.
    USU Archaeological Services
    Dr. Ken and Molly Cannon

    OCTA. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Oregon-California Trails Association

    WAS. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Dave Vlcek accepts the award on behalf of the Upper Green River Basin Chapter of the Wyoming Archaeological Society (WAS) for their help.

    We Saw the Elephant. Photo by Terry Allen.
    We Saw the Elephant
    Clint Gilchrist holds up the book, "We Saw the Elephant" which contains numerous diary accounts from emigrants traveling the Lander Trail from 1859 into the 1860s.

    Jeremy Wight. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Jeremy Wight
    Jeremy founded the Lander Trail Foundation and Historical Center in Afton, Wyoming. He has written three books on the Lander Trail.

    Dr. Ken Cannon. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Dr. Ken Cannon
    Dr. Cannon led two field expeditions at the park doing archaeological surveys before the park opened.

    Artifacts on display. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Artifacts on display
    Emigrant artifacts that were found during the two seasons of archaeological surveys were on display at the Grand Opening.

    Kim and Cory. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Kim and Cory
    Kimberly Finch (left) and Coreen Kolisko (right), National Park Service, spent countless hours and several onsite visits helping immensely with the park design and interpretive signs.

    The Park is Open!. Photo by Terry Allen.
    The Park is Open!

    Walking path and wind. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Walking path and wind
    A strong wind gust from a passing squall blew across the walking path causing everyone to have to hold on to their hats.

    Shuttle services. Photo by Terry Allen.
    Shuttle services
    Dawn Ballou provided 4-wheeler shuttle services for those who had difficulty walking from the parking lot into the park.
    Pinedale Online > News > June 2014 > Grand Opening of the Lander Trail-New Fork River Crossing Historical Park

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