Kane Historic Trail dedicated with fanfare

By David Peck

“Gone But Not Forgotten” has been the rallying cry of local residents interested in preserving the memory of Kane, the small town east of Lovell near the Big Horn River that ceased to exist in 1965 with the creation of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

And for the dozens who attended Friday’s dedication of the Kane Historic Trail at the town site, an important step toward preserving the Kane legacy was taken.

The open house event began at 10 a.m. with attendees walking the path and stopping at interpretive signs, where members of the Lovell-Kane Area Museum Board were stationed to answer questions and point to where buildings once stood.

People were then directed to the small site parking lot, where at 11 a.m., people gathered for the ribbon cutting and dedication. Bighorn Canyon Chief of Interpretation Christy Fleming gave welcoming remarks, noting the importance of the railroad in the history of Kane.

Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce president Cameron Miller thanked museum board president Karen Spragg and the museum board for their work to make the historic trail a reality.

“It’s a treasure,” Miller said, adding that the trail is another way to promote the area for tourism.

Spragg thanked the Wyoming Game and Fish, National Park Service, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Foundation, the county commissioners, the museum board members and “everyone who was behind all of this.” She also noted the work on the interpretive signs performed by Dustin McClure and Karlie Hammond, Tim DeFuentes and Wild Edge Screen Printing and Embroidery, and the work on the walking path by Ty Sammons and Sammons Excavation. She also read a congratulatory letter from U.S. Senator John Barrasso.

“An article in the Laramie Boomerang once stated that Kane was a town waiting to be forgotten,” Spragg said. “That is not going to happen.”

The dedicatory ribbon was then cut by Spragg, Miller and Bighorn Canyon Supt. Mike Tranel, after which attendees returned to the walking path for more history and also enjoyed refreshments.

Collaborative project

In an interview following the ribbon cutting, Tranel noted the leading role that park archaeologist Richard Olsen played in the historic trail project, as well as park staffers Fleming, Jennifer Prentiss, Ryan Felkins, Amanda Bennion and Todd Johnson. Fleming also noted the contributions of former interpretive ranger Justin Langlois. Olsen and Langlois mapped out the town site, she said, and Johnson walked the site with Spragg to help determine building sites.

Fleming also noted the contributions of park staffers Josh Scheffler, Bill Pickett and Sheryl Buchanan, along with Ty Sammons and crew for work on the pathways, Tim DeFuentes for welding the signs, Hammond and McClure for sign design, Austin Rice and Mike McArthur for site work and Jackson Jasso for help with final cleanup.

Tranel expressed pride in the project and appreciation for the museum/Park Service partnership. He said he and his staff will be following up for further interpretation of the town site, ideas for continuing to tell the story of Kane. He said Spragg would like to see the foundation of each building marked in some way and added, “We need to think about how to do that without disturbing artifacts. We’ll look for ways to expand upon the idea of telling the stories.

“We don’t want to lose the history,” he continued. “There’s lots of oral history. How do we make sure we capture the stories? We’ll definitely keep the partnerships going.”

Fleming also noted that the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation installed Wyoming historic signs pointing the way to the Kane town site, noting the work of architect Olsen, Jack Hoffman and Spragg, who wrote the proposal.

Spragg was very satisfied with the turnout Friday, figuring there were probably 70 to 80 in attendance overall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“I just think it was a super turnout,” Spragg said. “A lot of people hung around and visited with people they knew and hadn’t seen for years.”