|Here is a list of the leaders
of the four troops that went to the Jamboree from the Buffalo Trail Council:
Troop 27: James Hill,
The 3rd National Jamboree was held at the Irving Ranch, that was located eight miles from Santa Anna, California and 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
The ranch was steeped in the traditions of the pioneer spirit that built the Far West. Irving Ranch was one of the few large land holdings of the Spanish-Mexican regime. At the time of the 1953 Jamboree, it had been in the possession of a single family for over eighty years. The ranch was approximately 22 miles long and 9 miles wide, and included more that one hundred thousand acres. There were 3,000 acres in the Jamboree camp, the site was four miles square.
The troops traveled on the Texas and Pacific train to the Jamboree. They had 11 Air Conditioned coaches, 2 baggage cars and 2 diners. Tour Chief was Roy Carter of Kermit and Scout Train Chief was Gerald Brannson of Tyler, Texas. Dr. H. Glenn Walker serverd as Train Doctor and Lewis McCoy, Tyler, served as Train Baggage Master.
John L. Nicholson, who was a member of Troop 79 of Odessa, Texas at the time of the 1953 Jamboree, recalled that trip of 20 years ago.
The Buffalo Trails Troops boarded a train for the 1953 Jamboree at 7 AM in Odessa, Texas, this was a preview of things to come, in that the train was na hour and a half late. We loaded in Odessa, part of the contingent loaded at Big Springs, Midland and Monahans.
Two weeks prior to leaving Odessa we had received a one day orientation and election of Junior leaders at County Park in Odessa. Our Scoutmaster was from Monahans, and there were two Assistant Scoutmasters, one from Kermit and one from Odessa. We were also suppose to set up a demonstration camp, however our tents and tables did not arrive in time.
Our train was a chair car type and or many of us it was our first train ride. Difficulties were encountered prior to reaching El Paso. There was only one diner on the train and about 500 hungry Scouts and Leaders. Lunch took three hours, which was half the time it took to get from Odessa to El Paso.
After arriving at El Paso we were allowed to leave the train for two hours. Most of that time was spent in locating and buying additional trading material.
We reboarded the train and took off for Grand Canyon National Park. Our eating situation had improved, an Army diner had been added to the train, which was much faster, several army cook shad also joined up with us. The food service, speed and order was vastly improved, with only the language used by the cooks, taking a turn for the worse.
Several hour long delays were encountered due to passing trains and switches from one line to another.
The chair cars were hard to sleep in, but the Senior Patrol Leader, two other Patrol leaders and myself had the end of the car chairs, which face each other. If you didn't mind sleeping with someone's feet on your shoulders, it was fairly comfortable. Also duffle bags in the space where your feet usually go, kept a certain part of one's body off the floor.
While not sleeping the four of us kept a game of canasta going. by the time we got back home we were probably the finest canasta players aboard the train.
The Grand Canyon was beautiful, considering that it was almost completely covered in a sea of green uniforms. After a quick view of the canyon and gift shop, a pine cone fight developed on the south and west side of the hotel and gift shop. There were about 1,500 Scouts and Explorers involved until the different trains were boarded.
The next interesting event occurred on arrival at the Los Angeles train station. Before we were allowed to unload, inspectors for the fruit and wildlife agency of California had to inspect all cars, to check on fruit, bugs and animals. As the inspection moved from one end of the train to the other, the horned toad population in the un-inspected cars grew at an alarming rate. Our Troop was located in the next to the last car, after the inspection I recovered 32 horned toads. I only had six prior to the inspection, the toads proved to be great trading items later.
We arrived at the Jamboree at about 2 pm. We had to fix lunch and set up camp, not necessarily in that order. Our tables and benches had a tendency to fall apart throughout the rest of the Jamboree. This was especially true when is was the Scoutmasters turn to eat with our patrol, his weight was somewhere around 250.
The Jamboree was set up about like a camporee, there were stunts, demonstrations and campfires each night. There was plenty of free time, with plenty of trading taking place and a lot of bull sessions.
There were buses running on schedule which allowed the Scouts to visit other area's to meet other Scouts and compare notes on different things.
Someone goofed before we left home, they forgot to show us how to cook with charcoal. Raw chicken and steak were the fill of fare for several days. None of our Troop's won any ribbons during the contest, nor did we get best in camping, but the learning and fellowship was worth the trip.
Watching the tents come down after the Jamboree closing was probably one of the saddest days of my life. The Troops departed on a delayed basis, in order for everyone to spend 7 days at the Jamboree site. We were among the last to leave and it was depressing.
On our return trip, we spend one morning visiting in San Francisco and the afternoon visiting Chinatown. Both, if un-visited by a traveler are a loss of a lifetime. Each is beautiful in its own unique way.
On our way back we passed through the Royal Gorge in Colorado. The train stopped for one hour on the bottom next to the river. I have since seen the Gorge from the top, the view from the bottom is much better.
As the train moved through the Panhandle of Texas, unloading the Scouts and their leaders, friendships we had made along the way were brought to a close.
There are of course many things that I have not mentioned because of lack of space, Each word that I write bring memories, such as a Scout named Ponca, we call him the "Crazy Trader", he finally traded his uniform for an Australian "Digger Hat." I also remember a fight that was started because of the deep dust that we walked through going to and from the trading post. There were memories about my Scoutmaster, Olan B. Draper, and the extra effort he put out to see that each Scout from his troop that wanted to go to the Jamboree, had an opportunity to do so.
Writing about the Jamboree brings back as many wonderful memories, that I hope I will not soon forget them.
Updated: April 28, 2004
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