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Sage hut

A sage house at the California Trail Interpretive Center

ELKO — Learn about the history of the Carlin Trend, gaze at the night sky, and build your own miniature sage house at the California Trail Interpretive Center.

The Trail Center is presenting a variety of family friendly programs throughout September. The following programs are free and open to everyone:

Sept. 7, 10 a.m.: Heaven or Hell on Wheels: Chapel Cars of the early American West

In this year of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike which brought the United States together by rail, it is well known that “hell on wheels” towns dotted the frontier, and that new businesses sprang up including mercantile stores, banks, saddle shops and of course saloons. Less well known is the fact that there were people who wanted to bring a little bit of “heaven” to these towns, in the form of thirteen chapel cars (3 Catholic, 3 Episcopal and 7 Baptist) that were also on the rails. Many of them followed the transcontinental railroad west between 1890 and 1954, serving Christian communities and planting new churches on the frontier. One of the chapel cars visited Elko, Winnemucca, Contact, Sparks and other locations in northern Nevada, and the First Baptist Church of Las Vegas was founded in another one.

Elko resident Wendy Bernhard has served as docent on the Chapel Car Grace in Green Lake, Wisconsin, and will show a DVD and speak from her experience about what she calls the best kept secret in American railroad and church history, including the uniqueness of this form of railroad car, its relationship to the railroad industry, and the conditions of life on the cars.

Sept. 8, 2 p.m.: Jr. Ranger Program: In Their Own Words: Pioneer Journals

The pioneers kept daily journals along their journey which provide a wealth of information about their lives. Come learn why pioneer journals are so important and create your own pioneer journal entry using an old fashioned pen and ink.

Sept. 11, 7 p.m.: Astronomy Program: Learn the Constellations

For thousands of years, people from throughout the world have gazed into the heavens and connected the stars to create animals, heroes, and a variety of shapes. A planosphere is a simple tool that is useful for identifying constellations.

Join Nevada Outdoor School Director of Programming Jackie Lucero and create your own planosphere. Lucero will then show visitors how to use a planosphere to identify major constellations.

Sept. 13, 7 p.m.: Evening Program: Before the Gold: the Early Mining History of the Carlin Trend 1874-1961

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Before the discovery of the large gold deposits we see on the Carlin Trend today, the area had a long mining history dating back to 1874. In this program Dean Heitt will give an overview of his new book “Before the Gold: the Early Mining History of the Carlin Trend 1874-1961.”

Sept. 14, 6:30 p.m.: Evening Program: Northern Nevada Bats

Great Basin Institute Biologist Ali Helmig will share her knowledge, experience, and research on northern Nevada bats. Using specialized bat detecting equipment, participants will “listen” for bats. This event will start at the tennis courts in Southside Park, with a half mile walk on the bike path to follow. For more details, call 738-1849. Program is subject to cancellation due to poor weather conditions.

Sept. 15, 2 p.m.: Jr. Ranger Program: Shoshone Sage Houses of the Great Basin

Sage houses provided shelter for Native Americans living in the Great Basin. Join Interpreter Tim Burns and discover how these structures were built. Work as a team to build a miniature reproduction of a sage house.

Sept. 21, 1:30-3:30 p.m.: Meet the Guild: Crochet, Knitting and Spinning Wheel Demonstrations by the Ruby Mountain Fiber Folk

Members of the Ruby Mountain Fiber Folk will work on knitting and crochet projects. The fiberartists will provide knitting, crochet and spinning wheel demonstrations. Open to everyone.

Sept. 22, 2 p.m.: Jr. Ranger Program: How to Make Pioneer Butter

Making pioneer butter required much preparation and hard work. Join Volunteer Dinna Frost and learn how to make butter like the pioneers.

Sept. 29, 2 p.m.: Jr. Ranger Program: Learn how to play a Pennywhistle

Many different languages were spoken on the California Trail, but one language was universal: music! A perennial favorite of the emigrants was the pennywhistle due to its size and simplicity, and now you have the chance to learn how to play it, too! Pennywhistles will be provided. Class size is limited to 10 Jr. Rangers. Participants should be at least 5 years old. Please call the California Trail Center at 738-1849 to reserve your place.

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