Dell Mangum Train
Dell Mangum came up with the idea of travelling across Idaho by wagon after learning that the Oregon-California Trails Association’s national convention would be held in Nampa Idaho in 2008. He chose Montpelier, Idaho as his starting point. There he was joined by a number of other wagons and participants.
"It’s kind of something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always been fascinated with the wagons. On trips across the United States I’ve always wondered how did they do that…How in the heck did they find a way around a low spot that was all muddy? How did they get around a rock pile? It just amazed me that they ever made it to Oregon."
Mangum’s route across the state began by following the main Oregon Trail to Soda Springs and Chesterfield and then through the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The group had to have special permission to travel through the reservation. Monty Smith with his team and wagon accompanied Mangum for over a week on this leg of his journey.
"The thing about a modern wagon train, I think a person learns the difference between their wants and their needs. I really like just feeling things that my ancestors did. It’s a feeling that you have to experience to do. You just can’t get it by reading a book or seeing a movie. I’m in a real place where real pioneers, your ancestors, my ancestors, the Native American people’s ancestors – they all traveled through that area …. It’s a neat feeling. Just a really cool deal."
Smith would have loved to complete the entire trip but had to return to work so Mangum and a few others continued on past Fort Hall onto the Goodale Cutoff. But by the time the train reached Craters of the Moon along the cutoff, Mangum’s wagon was the last one still rolling. About a week later he was joined by a group of riders and another wagon when he turned back onto the main Oregon Trail near Canyon Creek. And when Mangum finally reach Nampa he also had two wagons in his train. As in pioneer days everything didn’t go exactly according to plan but Mangum persevered and completed the journey.
"This year when they said the convention was going to be in Nampa, Idaho I said, I am going to go, I’m going to take the team and wagon and at least drive through the parking lot over there. It kind of snowballed and we have four hundred and fifty-six miles of parking lot to drive through, twenty three travel days, four days of rest and lots and lots of scenery. Nearly all the history that you read about of the expansion of the United States that name pops up – Oregon/California Trail. It’s just amazing to see all this stuff.’
"Even if they’re not doing it in a wagon with a team of horses I think they should travel this at a moderate pace. It is history. Today’s news is tomorrow’s history so whatever they do today they can tell their kids I did that. I think that’s an important thing that they should be able to relate to the past."