Rick Nichols
Special to The Gardner News
Members of what is quite possibly the only amateur radio club in the entire United States with “Santa Fe Trail” in its name will be converging on Lone Elm Park in Olathe this Saturday for a special event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Santa Fe Trail.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., licensed amateur radio operators, or “hams,” with the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club will be navigating the airways with two purposes in mind: first, letting “hams” elsewhere know that the trail, which ran from Franklin, Mo., to Santa Fe, N.M., is 200 years old this year, and second, making contacts with as many “hams” as possible through the Parks on the Air program.
While many of America’s parks have clearly-defined boundaries, a “park” can take the form of something such as a historic trail that passes through multiple states or provinces, according to Gardner’s Jim Andera, call sign K0NK, a member of the Santa Fe Trail club. In the case of Lone Elm Park, he related, this spot originally was a popular campground for those in covered wagons who were traveling along the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails.
Andera reported that “hams” who make contact with one of the three radio stations the Santa Fe Trail club will be operating at 21151 W. 167th Street, two voice stations and one continuous wave (i.e., Morse code) station, will earn POTA points for each of the three major trails. He also noted out that they will have a chance to learn “some fun or interesting aspect involving the history or the culture” of this part of the United States in the process.
“There are a number of hams that strive to talk to as may POTA parks as possible, and even get awards for doing so,” Andera observed. “For some, it becomes a hobby within a hobby, much like baseball fans who also collect baseball cards.”
This weekend’s special event also will provide members of the Santa Fe Trail club with an opportunity to better prepare themselves for the critical role they could be asked to play during an emergency. “Each operation where we as amateur radio operators go out and set up and operate our radios in a temporary fashion, becomes a training exercise,” Andera said. “Through such efforts we gain skills and experience that can be vital when we are called upon to provide backup communications in the event that disasters disrupt normal communications.”
The special event at the west end of Lone Elm Park is open to the public. “The public is welcome to come out and visit with us in person and get a glimpse of the history of Lone Elm Park and at the same time gain some insight into the fascinating and educational hobby of amateur radio,” Andera said.
More information about the Santa Fe Trail club can be obtained by visiting  www.sftarc.org.
For additional information about Lone Elm Park, visit www.olatheks.org.