March 2014 Newsletter

From the Desk of the President:
After mixed feelings and much deliberation, our Board of Directors has made the decision to forgo reserving a separate booth to participate in the IL Horse Fair again this year. The STC has had a booth in the corner spot for over 15 years. It is the one event that exposes our organization to most people who could be potential members and supporters of continuing access in the Shawnee Forest. The costs of participating were weighed against the benefits. The number of people stopping at our booth, the number of new members, but most importantly the exposure of the STC to those who may not be aware we even exist. Luckily the Equine Counsel has reserved the booth next to theirs for land-managers and advocacy groups to share. This combined booth allows for each entity to have representatives at the fair. This was done last year also. We are still making plans if we will be able to participate this year. Hope to see you at the fair.
As an update, the STC did participate at the Horse Fair. We shared the Horse Council booth as part of the land managers and advocacy groups. We are proud to say that our organization provided more help than any other entity that was invited to help.
Happy trails,
Linda Sanders

We would like to thank all the people who gave donations to the STC in 2013. Donations are extremely important in keeping our organization viable. Donations make up half of our proceeds for operating expenses especially since we have not raised our membership fees since the beginning of this organization.

Those donating this year: Jessie Adams, Janice Arnold, Clarence & Suzanne Barr, Dwayne & Virgi Bassett, Mary Ann Ellison, Deborah Held & Ev Duitsman, Robert & Trudy Horsman, Phil & Tenna Knox, Ben & Patti Laubscher, Hulon & Dorothy Lessel, Jerry Lowery, John & Loretta Maldaner, John McIlroy Jr, Mike Meisenheimer, Jerry Raban, Diane Ramey, Sue Simmons, Tali Smith, David Sanders, Mark & Jill Thompson, John & Tammy Ward, Kenny & Janice Wiseman, Owen J Beckham, Connie Burrus, James Pearson, Gail Summers and Liz Williams, Gene Seyfert, Scott Wright, Doug & Lisa Crocker, Elizabeth Williams, Sandy Poletti, Cherie DeWulf, Bill & Florn Heintz.

A special thank you goes to those who volunteered their time and talent through out the year. Board members and other local volunteers work on trail clearing, many times providing equipment such as tractors. Board members and officers receive no compensation for their duties other than expenses such as fuel for tractors if work requires extensive time. Many office supplies and postage are not reimbursed either.

Our officers and board members are dedicated to keeping our access to the Shawnee not only for those of us who live here, but for all the people who have come here from other areas to recreate in this great place.


We are glad to announce that the Pope County Saddle Club and M*A*S*H will be hosting their 3rd Annual Memorial Day Charity Ride and Camp Out.

All profits will be donated to M*A*S*H 62938 to help Cancer Patients in southern IL.

Dates for the event are: May 23 – 26. The trail ride and camping will take place at The New Hope Hill in Herod, IL. For more information call 618-841-0589.


This past fall when riders Steve & Marlene Collier pulled in the Lusk Creek trailhead, there lay a saddle, blanket and bridle spread along the ground. They assumed it belonged to the trailer already parked there, but when they ran into another rider in the woods, a fellow said the saddle was at the trailhead when he arrived also. After returning to the trailhead, several riders came riding through and told the Colliers that they had seen the saddle laying on the ground in the morning before any other rigs had arrived.

The Colliers decided to bring the saddle back to their camping site, notices were put up at the trailhead in case the owner returned to find no saddle. Notification was also posted on a couple Facebook pages hoping to alert the saddle owner.

Upon examining the saddle, Marlene contacted the manufacturer and asked if they had serial numbers. Learning what the number was she again contacted the manufacturer with that information. The saddle company was then able to contact the owner.

Meanwhile the owner of the saddle was not even aware that he was missing his saddle. His wife called him and asked him where his saddle was, which confused him since he thought it was in his trailer. Realizing the saddle was not in the trailer, he called the number provided by Marlene and had his saddle returned. He was very appreciative and remarked that he was surprised there were still honest people in this world.

A big thank you to Steve & Marlene Collier for not only their honesty, but their initiative in locating the rightful owner of such a valued possession.


The Ovid Barnes property has a trail that connects the R-R trail with the trail to Indian Kitchen. The part of this trail that goes down the hill has been moved as of 10-26-13. The change was requested by Ovid and will be easier to maintain for the Conservancy and other volunteers.

Richard Connor used his equipment to put in the trail and he and David Sanders rocked the trail with the STC gravel wagon. Many thanks to both for the time and work they devoted to getting this trail moved.

Signs and ribbon has been added to aid in the transition to the new section. Please respect this landowner and stay on the trail. We thank you for your help. Below is a photo of a section of the new trail.

The county road crew added large rock in the ditch along the roadway from the river to river trail to the Barnes property to stop erosion. It created footing that was hard for the horses and many ended up riding on the slick oil and chip road surface. Red rock will be added over the top to create a better trail tread. This rock will be provided by Kenny & Janice Wiseman.


The STC jointly with the Forest Service applied for a RTP grant in the spring of 2013. Trails in the One Horse Gap area would be relocated and connected to the trails that were relocated from the last RTP grant the STC received compliments of Patti Laubscher's hard work. Two new trail-heads would also be part of this grant.

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. The RTP is an assistance program of the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

That application has been recommended for funding according to the IL Dept of Natural Resources. That said, completion of the grant process takes between one to one and a half years. With this information in hand, we may not have any confirmation or funds until the fall of 2014.

As with any government project, we have been advised that until the funds are in our hands, do not count the grant as a done deal. We will update our membership when we know more.


Submitted by Jack Flammang

The Knights of the Golden Circle is a popular riding destination about 2 miles east of the Garden of the Gods that some of you may have visited. There are some interesting rock formations there and a small overhang that has seen many campfires and has been a favorite lunch stop for many trail riders.

As many of you know, the Shawnee Trail Conservancy received a grant to develop a trailhead at this location which will be able to accommodate several truck and trailer rigs. But, how many of you knew that the name “Knights of the Golden Circle” was actually the name of the largest secret and subversive organization that existed in the U.S. during the latter half of the nineteenth century?

The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) was created in 1854 to establish a slave holding empire that would include many southern states in the U.S., the West Indies, Mexico, and parts of Central America. The Golden Circle would have a radius of 1200 miles and would be centered in Havana, Cuba. This empire would monopolize the production and trade of tobacco, cotton, and sugar and would be so strong that it would insure slavery could never be abolished by the northern states.

Historians and writers feel the ideas of the KGC may have come from a number of other groups. Some feel the roots may go back as far as the Sons of Liberty of the American Revolution. Others feel they were associated with ideas emanating from the Southern Rights Clubs popular in the south during the 1830’s. Others associate them with the Order of the Lone Star founded in 1834 which helped initiate the Texas Revolution. The Knights of the Golden Circle was divided into three divisions, the military, the commercial/financial, and the political. Each division was further divided into two classes that had specific duties and responsibilities. As an example, the military division was divided into the Foreign Guards who would invade Mexico while the Home Guards would help supply the Foreign Guards with supplies and provisions. Local groups that formed throughout the North and South were called Castles. They conducted their meetings at secret locations and participated in elaborate rituals that used codes, signs, and secret passwords.

Before the Civil War the KGC reportedly had their own army consisting of 16,000 men and had a total membership throughout the U.S. of 48,000. Their intention was to invade Mexico and divide it into 15 new slave holding states. This would mean there would be more slave holding states than non-slave holding states and would prevent the abolishment of slavery in the US. The KGC made one attempt to invade Mexico during the spring of 1860. For what ever reason, the attempt failed and shortly after that the Civil War broke out forcing them to postpone their plans.

When the Civil War broke, out the KGC sided with the Confederacy and participated in the war. Most of the men were soldiers, some were officers, and many were involved in conspiracies that undermined the efforts of the Union Army. Members of Quantrill’s Raiders, Jesse James, and John Wilkes Booth were all reported to be members of the KGC. It was said the KGC had plans to kidnap Lincoln before he was even elected President and that they eventually played a part in his assassination.

After the Civil War, the organization had to become even more secretive. They looked forward to the South rising again and the invasion of Mexico. Some think Jesse James and others robbed with the intent of providing funds for the KGC’s future plans. Millions of dollars are supposed to have been cached in secret locations throughout the Southwest known to only a few KGC members. There was recently a television program documenting the hunt for several of these caches.

The above is only a very brief history of this organization. Much more can be found by searching on-line. Could it be that the Knights of the Golden Circle trailhead, a favorite meeting place and lunch stop for trail riders, was also once a secret meeting place of this organization? Who knows???

Information for this article came from the Knights of the Golden Circle website and the Handbook of Texas On-line published by the Texas State Historical Association.


Relocation has been done for the trail from R-R on the opposite side of the creek at the Tin Whistle. (The Tin Whistle is where the large culvert goes underneath the road road tracks. We ride through this culvert as part of the R-R). This is in the Millstone Lake area. The old trail that was used most often went along the west side of the creek and crossed over a couple times before connecting to trail 049 to Jackson Fall area. Part of this trail was on railroad right of way and may not have been designated. It did have a sign just below the Tin Whistle when those wooden signs were placed several years ago. It appears on the old designated trail map that the old roadbed on the opposite side of the creek from the Tin Whistle was the official route to reach the Jackson Falls bluffs.

The new trail, on the south end, now crosses the creek just below the Tin Whistle and travels along the hillside on the east side of Little Bay Creek until it reaches the junction of 049B. The trail has some nice small rock formations and deep gullies to make it scenic.

The FS is working on relocating the trail from that old roadbed along the top where it is rutted out from vehicles going through the mud. It will be relocated further down the hill on the side closer to Millstone Lake. This work has been delayed because of the weather. The old designated trail maps show the trail as the roadbed but it has no number.

Since the weather has been so cold and there has been so much ice for southern IL, a few photos of the beauty created by this severe weather seems appropriate. Here are a few. Please remember that you can go to our website the view these photos in color since the black and white does not do justice to them.

Burden Falls 1st Tier

Photo by Cathy Jennings

Jackson Hole Waterfall

Photo by Cathy Jennings
The Forest Service is asking for people to adopt sections of trail. There are many miles of trail in the Shawnee where volunteer trail maintenance is needed & appreciated. If there is a section of trail that those of you who live in the Shawnee Forest area use and enjoy, please consider adopting a section. Contact Kelly Pearson at for further information.
Election of officers is held at this annual meeting and anyone who would like to be a director please contact Sue Perina.
Regular director meetings are held every 3rd Thursday of the month at 6 PM at Ponderoso Restaurant, Harrisburg IL. Come join us at the meeting. Be sure to plan on having your meal there too.

All memberships are from January 1 - December 31. Everyone will need to renew his or her memberships at the beginning of the year. We are hoping this helps people to remember when their membership fees are due.

We continue to need your support in membership and monetary donations. Please send in your renewal after the New Year. Any donation will help in our ongoing efforts and for trail maintenance. If you know of someone who should be getting the newsletter and isn’t, please have them contact a director or officer of the STC by email or phone.
Shawnee Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 44
Eddyville, IL 62928

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