Medallion, created by renowned sculptor, will be placed at the Truman Courthouse to serve as a marker indicating that Independence Square was the jumping off point for three iconic trails as pioneers made their way west to Oregon, California and Santa Fe.
INDEPENDENCE, MO. – The Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), headquartered in Independence, Mo., received a donation of a rare 3-foot diameter, 200-pound bronze Oregon Trail medallion. The medallion will be dedicated at a special ceremony on the northwest corner of the courthouse lawn at 3 p.m., June 7 at Jackson County Truman Historic Courthouse, 112 W. Lexington Avenue, Independence, Mo.
The event also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which administers the Oregon National Historic Trails program.
Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr., National Park Service National Trails Superintendent Aaron Mahr, and OCTA Association Manager Travis Boley will share remarks and introduce medallion donor Dr. David Fairbanks of Bethesda, Maryland.
“We're very proud to have this medallion on permanent display here in Independence, in Jackson County, to recognize and commemorate this community's vital role in the history of the American West,” said White.
The medallion was first cast in 1924 by renowned artist Dr. Avard Fairbanks. Five others are on permanent display in Seaside, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; Boise, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; and Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Donor Dr. David Fairbanks, son of the artist, donated the medallion to OCTA with the intention of it being permanently installed at the Jackson County Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence, one of the famed starting points of the Oregon Trail. OCTA originally entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Jackson County in 2004 to place the medallion at the Courthouse at a future date.
“We are very excited to donate the medallion to the county so that it will be on permanent display. The bronze sculpture portrays a pioneer family in an ox-drawn wagon struggling over a rocky trail outcropping. Avard Fairbanks' reputation as one of America's most distinguished sculptors, anatomists, and educators of the 20th century, and the fact that his grandfather made his way west in 1847 to Salt Lake City on America's historic trails, makes him the perfect artist to add to the collection of monuments found at our famed County Courthouse,” said Travis Boley, Association Manager of the Oregon-California Trails Association.
The Oregon-California Trails Association, the nation's largest organization dedicated to preserving and promoting historic trails, is donating the medallion to the county for installation on the opposite side of an existing Oregon Trail monument, located on the northwest corner of the Courthouse lawn.
“Installing this commemorative plaque prominently on the courthouse grounds reminds us all of a very inspiring feature of our national history which began right here in Independence. It will become another vital link that new generations will visit and appreciate as they follow the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe national historic trails in Jackson County,” said Mahr.
In the coming years, OCTA will continue to work with local governments to build a hiking/biking trail in the historic trail corridor, and the medallion will be one of dozens of sites for trail users to visit. Eventually, the 3-Trails corridor will connect with the Katy Trail extension near 63rd & Raytown Road.