In 1906, at the age of 76, Ezra Meeker decided that the nation had forgotten the Oregon Trail. He assembled a covered wagon and a team of oxen and traveled east over the route, raising money for his trek as he went. At each town along the way the white-haired, bearded pioneer stopped and made speeches. He became a modern day Johnny Appleseed, traveling the western rangeland planting monuments and sewing seeds of patriotism and nostalgia to mark the Oregon Trail. As the trip progressed, publicity started to build, so that he began to find that towns had raised funds and organized memorials in advance of his arrival. Most of the markers cost under $100 and their dedication ceremonies attracted enormous crowds, building cumulative support for trail preservation. Meeker contacted local historical societies along the route, enlisting their help and suggesting that they raise funds to place monuments in their respective communities. This piece commemorates and locates these "Meeker Markers".
By Ron Hall