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National Historic Trails Interpretive Center
Release Date: 05/06/11
Contacts: Lesley A. Collins    

National Historic Trails Center Foundation Presents Casper's Premier of "In Pursuit of a Dream"

Award-winning Documentary Retells the Story of Modern Students Traveling on the Oregon and California Trails

Click an image for a large format version suitable for print.
Camp scene.
Camp scene.
Frankie Israel.
Frankie Israel.
Modern day pioneers Janet Wragge, Candace Manley & Kim Merchant.
Modern day pioneers Janet Wragge, Candace Manley & Kim Merchant.
A group of teenagers began a journey and walked along the California and Oregon trails. They thought they were going to learn about United States history. They wound up learning about themselves.

The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center (NHTIC) and the National Historic Trails Center Foundation will present three showings of the movie, In Pursuit of a Dream.

The showings, free and open to the public, will take place at the American Theater, 119 Center Street in Casper, Wyo. On May 20, show times are 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The final showing is May 21 at 10:30 a.m.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this award-winning film to Casper and bring history to life for children and their families,” said Holly Turner, executive director of the National Historic Trails Center Foundation. “The educational film is outstanding for school groups, home schools, seniors and all those interested in Wyoming and U.S. history.”

During the summer of 2008, 24 students from throughout the U.S. left their homes, iPods and computers, exchanged shorts and sandals for long dresses and pioneer pants, and began a two-week adventure on the Oregon and California trails.

The modern-day pioneers walked the trails, slept in tents and cooked outside, similar to the estimated 500,000 emigrants that took part in the western migration between 1840 and 1869. The students traveled with Kim Merchant and Janet Wragge, living historians from Casper, and David Vixie of Paradise, Calif.

The students learned how to live without cell phones, electronic games, soft beds and daily showers. They learned not only about U.S. history, but also about themselves and how individual decisions resulted in serious consequences for the group.

The cast includes Frankie Israel of Casper and Rachel Stevens of Saratoga. Casper residents participated in the filming, including Tom Rea, Pinky Ellis, Doc Bob, Ana Merchant and Larry Gomez.

In Pursuit of a Dream won the 2010 Spur Award as best documentary from Western Writers of America, an Oregon Heritage Award, and awards from film festivals in Oregon, Hollywood and Houston.

The movie was made possible by the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), which seeks to protect the historic emigrant trails by promoting research, education and preservation. The movie, directed by Bob Noll and produced by Candy Moulton of Encampment, was filmed by Boston Productions, which also produced the Trails Center’s orientation film, Footsteps to the West.

At the showings, Candy Moulton and Quackgrass Sally, along with some cast members, will discuss the making of the film. A DVD of the film will be available for purchase, with proceeds going to the National Historic Trails Center Foundation and OCTA.

For more information about the showings, contact Holly Turner at 307-265-8030. More information about the film can be found at

The National Historic Trails Center Foundation promotes and preserves the heritage surrounding the pathways to the West, and fosters appreciation, insight, and understanding. The Foundation enhances and maintains the interactive exhibits, dioramas, and award-winning orientation movie at the Trails Center.

The Trails Center and the Foundation provide educational programs and services with the goal of enriching the cultural and intellectual lives of visitors and local residents.

The NHTIC is a part of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The areas of the NLCS are specifically designed to conserve, protect and restore the exceptional scientific, natural, cultural, ecological, historical, and recreation values of these treasured landscapes.

The NHTIC is a public-private partnership between the BLM and the National Historic Trails Center Foundation. The facility is located at 1501 N. Poplar Street, Casper, Wyo.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

National Historic Trails Interpretive Center   1501 North Poplar Street      Casper, WY 82601  

Last updated: 05-11-2011