Pat and Jack Fletcher both resigned their University positions and moved to Sequim, Washington in 1990 to publish their research on The Cherokee Trail. Telling the story of the Cherokee Trail is actually an ongoing project. Much more than the product of two books, it has involved much more than literature search, such as diaries, letters, military accounts, etc. It also involves "ground truthing" - locating, GPSing mapping, and marking. The trail is over 900 miles long and they have been over it numerous times, and at least twice all the way from Fort Gibson/Tahlequah/Fayetteville, Arkansas to California. Their research has made them the foremost authorities in America on the Cherokee Trail and its branches & cutoffs.
They are presently working on their third book entitled: The Central Overland Emigrant Trail, Branches and Cutoffs, History and Uses The Cherokee Trails to California.
As the Military directive to "Find the most Practicable Route from Fort Riley to Bridger Pass" the military constructed a road along the Lodge Pole Creek over Cheyenne Pass and another from Bridger Pass to the Green River. Both of these struck the Cherokee Trail and the one over Bridger Pass became the newest cutoff and was called the Cherokee Trail by the Rocky Mountain News who published a guide in their paper. In 1862 Ben Holiday received approval from the Postmaster General to move the Overland Stage & Mail (including stage stations) from the South Pass route south onto the Cherokee (road) Trail. Through time as an Emigrant trail it became the Central Overland Trail which the Fletcher mapped from Nebraska to California for the NPS. The book will provide documentation of the location, history & use of the numerous branches and cutoffs of the Cherokee Trail as well as the Overland Stage & Mail route and their stage stations. The book slated for publication in 2012.
Both were born in Colorado. Pat was brought up on a dairy farm in Littleton. In 1949 the dairy was moved to the Windsor Farm and Pat finished her education in Aurora. Jack was brought up by his mother near Cherry Creek in the area of the Four Mile House in what became Glendale. After graduation from Aurora High School they were married, and after several years and four children, Jack graduated from Colo. State U. with a B.S. in Wildlife Management. Jack worked for the USFS on the Spruce Beetle Worm project and later for the USF&W on the Dillon dam project,
Both subsequently went to the Univ. of Northern Colorado where Pat obtained her B.A. in History and M.A. in Geography. Jack obtained an M.S. in Biology and a Doctorate in Science Education & Botany. Pat taught high school on Guam, and at Community Colleges: Douglas in British Columbia; Arizona State in Yuma; and supervised student teachers at E. Washington U. Jack taught at the U. of Guam, U. of No. Colo., U. of British Columbia, and E. Washington U. They have authored articles on the Spanish American War, including the U.S. “capture” of Guam. They both enjoy outdoor activities. Both are ardent bird watchers and bird banders (over six thousand) and have been officers in the local Audubon Society. As members of Oregon-California Trails Association they have been national board officers-Jack served six consecutive years (maximum allowed) during which OCTA officially recognized the Cherokee Trail as a major emigrant trail, thus providing OCTA's preservation and protection. Pat is presently on the board for her second term. They were the program and workshop chairpersons for the Vancouver & Loveland national conventions and the Northwest OCTA chapter Whidbey Island meeting. As State National History Day judges they have brought national & state student winners to the Washington, Wyoming & Colorado conventions. As America's foremost authorities on the Cherokee Trail they have been consultants on a Wyoming PBS documentary and wagon trains, given over two dozen lectures and led seven tours over the trail. They have worked closely with the National Park Service in documenting the "Significant Sites & Segments" of the trail and "scoping" sessions toward National Historic Trail status. They have turned over much of their research to the NPS and the Bureau of Land Management. Their close working relationship with the Rock Springs & Rawlins [Wyoming] BLM offices has lead to trail locating, marking and saving significant segments, through ongoing participation with a spectrum of energy companies. Additionally their relationship with the National Forest Service's Laramie Office has resulted in several past and ongoing PIT (Passport in Time) archaeology projects. OCTA members have also been involved in ongoing PIT Cherokee Trail projects in the Ashley National Forest west of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation area.
The Fletchers receiving the “Meritorious Achievement” Award, OCTA’s highest, from President Vern Gorzitze.