Fifty-one members and guests attended Sunday’s fall quarterly meeting of the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. It was held at Fort Larned National Historic Site. Dr. David Clapsaddle, chapter president, presented the program based on a booklet he authored, "A Long Way to Santa Fe."
Hamburgers, grilled in the open air, were the main entree for the 1:15 p.m. meal. There was relish, onions, buns, of course, ketchup and mustard, chips, drinks and cookies.
Three current fifth-graders, attending Larned Middle School, were on hand for Clapsaddle’s program. All three boys were among the fourth-graders of the 2009-2010 school year, who each created a quilt block for a special quilt, put together by members of the Quilting Bees Guild, Larned-based. There were seven entries competing for honors, from the six National Historic Sites in Kansas. The Larned quilt placed second, and teacher Doug Anderson’s class received an award of about $170.
Anderson said, Sunday, that the funds will be used to start a Math Club at Northside Elementary School, where he teaches and where Dalton McClendon, Trenton Wright and Cody Lemuz were in his class during the school year that ended in May. Wright’s and Lemuz’s quilt blocks placed first in the vying, and each boy received a check for $25.
Clapsaddle presented the sixth in the series of "Traveling Trunks" programs he has been taking to schools in western Kansas and southeast Colorado. He showed that in the time of "A Long Way," erasable slates were used, because pencils and paper were costly items.
He showed his "class" of mostly adults the sort of pants that would have been worn by men and boys 150 years ago or so. There were no pockets, because the typical person did not have that many items to carry, such as a wallet, a cell phone, a comb, etc. that might be "transported" nowadays.
Clapsaddle told of the uses of mules, oxen and other animals along the SF Trail. He showed how, if a horse foundered, from eating unhealthy foods, its hooves would grow erratically, curling up in front. This was a serious problem — when it occurred.
The boy/narrator of "A Long Way" calculated that the oxen-pulled wagon train would travel an average of 15 miles a day. From Westport (now Kansas City, Mo.) to Santa Fe was 750 miles, so he figured it would take 50 days to make the trip, one way. Each wagon weighed about 2,000 pounds, and was loaded "to the gills" with 4,000 pounds of goods en route to New Mexico, for a total of three tons per vehicle.
Clapsaddle pointed out that it was considered rude, impolite to wear a hat or cap indoors. Buffalo were bigger than the narrator of the story expected, and their meat was very tasty.