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Philip Chamber of Commerce preparing for 2011 Scotty Philip wagon train

The main guest speaker for the Tuesday, May 11, Philip Chamber of Commerce meeting was Darby Nutter, the head coordinator for the proposed wagon train that will start in Philip, arriving at its destination of Fort Pierre on the 100th anniversary of Scotty Philip's death, June 23, 2011.

Nutter's commitments to the Fort Pierre board of education caused the Philip chamber meeting to be on Tuesday this month, rather than its usual second Monday of each month.

Nutter said the event will be a huge undertaking, "Before, we have limited these to 300 participants. There's a lot of livestock, lot of vehicles and campers, lot of dust. It's like moving a small city. This event, though, may include up to 350 people."

Plans are for a pony express from Fort Pierre to arrive in Philip the evening before the wagon train sets out. It would carry real mail written for the occasion, perhaps from one school's classes to the corresponding classes in the other school, or special letters from and to history buffs. The wagon train, maybe including a stagecoach, would carry the return mail. Nutter said, "It's a great experience and great learning. As one of our participants once said of this area, 'You've got history that you can still touch.' "

The chamber's general attitude was summed up by Doug West, "If anybody can circle the wagons and have a wild time, Philip is the place that could do it." Nutter agreed, "The particular day we leave Philip we could have games for the kids like in the old days, rolling hoops and such. People can experience the excitement first-hand and the friendships that can be made. That's what people are going to remember when they leave Philip. As seen with the Matched Bronc Ride, Philip has the best crowd and the best people."

Even in its heyday, the route was called the Bad River Road. Fort Pierre was considered the second highest rated trading post in the region, after Fort Laramie. Still, according to Nutter, "There are very limited stories and photos of the trail. If anyone knows a grandpa, grandma or anyone who can tell us stories of the trail, contact us. Help us hang on to our history, folks."

Stops would probably in at Powell, Midland, Cappa and other places down the line, averaging about 15 miles a day during the entire trip. Nutter said that organizations could put on a feed or something, usually the evening meal, such as the Philip Volunteer Fire Department did for the last wagon trail near here. A wide variety of speakers would relate history or anything of significance in the evenings. It would be a chance to highlight local people during national coverage. The position of honorary wagon master would rotate from individual to individual, maybe the landowner of that section or someone else.

In other business, Glenn Parsons said the preparation for Philip Festival Days is set. "We have incorporated the days with other things such as the our centennial and wagon trains, thus giving a historical factor, but mainly it is appreciation," said Parsons. "We, as the merchants of this community, put forth the funding in appreciation of the community and the business." The supper, parade, carnival games and other activities are still looking for more volunteers. Parsons pointed out that there will be only one more chamber meeting before Festival Days.

The next chamber meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. Monday, June 14, at the 73- Saloon.