Mullan Road Conference, which is this weekend in Spokane and Cheney.
Named after its builder Captain John Mullan, the road crossed the Continental Divide to connect the headwaters of navigation on the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. The wagon road was begun in 1859 and completed in 1862. In a very real sense, the Mullan Road completed the work begun by Lewis and Clark as they searched for a practical route to the Pacific Ocean.
Also much like Lewis and Clark, the Mullan Road is a bit overrated. The road only served for a few years before being closed by winter avalanches and washouts. Parts of the road continued to be used, right to this day, but long stretches are all but forgotten. Though the Mullan Road has a fascinating history it is hardly the equivalent of the Oregon Trail or other great western roads.
Still, the road attracts continuing interest from a mixed community of academics and history buffs. Each year we get together at a site along the road to share our research, look at pictures of ruts, see the local historical sites, and on Sunday to explore a section of the road--when it can be located at all. This year the conference will be held at the MAC, where we will break our sessions with a tour of the excellent David Douglas exhibit. And on Sunday we will explore the trail from the Snake River to the Idaho line.
Registration is a bargain at $60, or $20 without the meals! Come join us.