Name: Lauren Manning
Current City/State: Kansas City, MO
Hometown: St. Joseph, MO
Education: Urban Studies-Neighborhood Development and Housing at University of Missouri at Kansas City
Trails Represented: Pony Express, Oregon, California, and Lewis and Clark national historic trails
Federal Agency/Nonprofit Employers: City of St. Joseph and Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA)
Scope of Internship:
1) Complete auto-tour and hiking tour sign plans for the greater St. Joseph, Missouri region (which includes northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas) and assist in their installation;
2) Research properties along the historic trail routes in the city of St. Joseph and the surrounding area to plan for future interpretive needs, whether via apps, websites, on-site interpretive exhibits, or printed materials;
3) Work with community leaders as well as city elected officials and employees to conceptualize planning for future interpretation along the Missouri River in St. Joseph and in downtown St. Joseph;
4) Work with OCTA and the city of St. Joseph on planning and promoting a future National Park Service charrette to help St. Joseph better capitalize on its unique historic trails resources;
5) Work with OCTA’s Gateway Chapter and city planner Nic Hutchison to obtain the wagons currently in storage at the St. Joseph Parks Department to be utilized in the development of potential for-credit courses via Missouri Western State University that will showcase historically-accurate depictions of 19th century trail life at the Whistle Creek Livestock Preserve, located a few miles outside of St. Joseph;
6) Work with OCTA’s Gateway Chapter to develop new membership opportunities;
7) Outreach to surrounding communities and counties in both Missouri and Kansas, Missouri Western State University, local historic organizations, the National Pony Express Association, the Lewis & Clark Heritage Trail Foundation, and the National Park Service’s Lewis & Clark office in Omaha to include them in planning processes;
My internship has consisted of researching properties in St. Joseph, Missouri identifying historic sites associated with the NHTs that passed through our city by means of primary sources.
I am also working on developing a plan for a 475 acre National Historic Trails Center here in St. Joseph by reviving a 100+ year old plan developed for the Prospect Hill river bluff connecting Fort Smith, Wyeth Hill, Krug Park and Sunbridge Conservation Area. This center will consist of an auditorium, research library, café, overlook deck, mountain bike, hiking trails, camping areas, a potential rehabbed bridge converted into a pedestrian bridge and lots of interpretation along the way with all the trails as well as Native American history and interpretation. This will host rotating exhibits, lectures, guest speakers, camping for concert festivals and general modern trail recreation for hiking and biking.
The NHT Landscape Architects and I have been in consistent conversations about hosting an upcoming charette to incorporate the trails history throughout our city. This is roughly a stretch from the area of our NHTC project, Robidoux Row, and the Pony Express Stables and all the way to the river.
I have worked with OCTA and the city and helped to get ten wagons donated to the Whistle Creek Livestock Preserve that can be used for education and camping.
Anything you want us to know? I have background in city planning and historic preservation but this has definitely been a whole new challenge for me working with the majority of our sites having been lost decades ago. It’s fun finding out what used to be there though!
Favorite Moment of Internship: My favorite moment so far has been probably a tie. Early on in my internship the local OCTA chapter and I went on a tour throughout northeast Kansas on the St. Joe Road. We didn’t realize the dirt roads along the way hadn’t dried out yet and got stuck in the mud all the way down to the frame of the van with no cell signal. It was pretty authentic haha! The other time was recently while looking for the Pony Express Trail resources in Utah we came across hundreds of wild horses…at the site of the old Pony Express site.
Future Career Aspirations: In the future, largely, I want to see this trails center come to fruition. I want to go further in Historic Preservation and Planning and maybe even work at the national level one day. I’m working on my goal of all 50 states and I’m at 48 right now!
How has the internship prepared you for the future: The internship has introduced me to SO many people! I already knew the value of networking but this has really opened my eyes to what it can do for projects like this. I’ve also learned so much about GIS, research techniques, and land use. I’ve also been to so many amazing places.