Rotarians and the public are invited to “Hard Way to the Valley.” The play is on Sunday, January 19th, at 2:30pm at the Springs at Greer Gardens dining room (1282 Goodpasture Island Road in Eugene.) It is sponsored by the Rotary Springs Satellite Club. Donations collected at the door will benefit the Southtowne Rotary Foundation scholarship program.

Lane County has a one-of-a-kind Oregon Trail story. Known as the Lost Wagon Train of 1853, the episode involved more than a thousand pioneers who dared to take a “short-cut” across Eastern Oregon’s high desert, into the dense Cascade Mountains, and over the snow-covered Willamette Pass, where they were rescued by dozens of local settlers from the valley below.

Eugene writer Pete Peterson and four narrators in the Our Town Readers Theater troupe will perform the one-hour show. They will be joined on stage by 21 life-size pioneer look-alike photos by the late Eugene photographer, David Joyce. This “readers play” features the actors reading from stools and bringing forth the cutouts at appropriate times.

The audience can use Oregon Trail maps to trace the pioneers’ five-month, 2,000-mile trek from the Missouri River to Lane County.

Peterson based his 1975 book, “Our Wagon Train is Lost,” as well as the script for the play, on materials that Lane County genealogist and historian Leah Collins Menefee and friends collected over a 40-year span. Because of her dedication and perseverance, the Lane County History Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society in Portland have a thoroughly documented record of this unique Oregon Trail episode.