Gary and Bev Stone
Class of 2017
Through his art work and her writing, Gary and Bev Stone have dedicated their lives toward saving Idaho and Western history, as well as the Western way of life. They have been actively involved by literally marking the Oregon Trail, helping plan interpretive centers, and participating in preserving important historic sites.
They also helped “pioneer” art from country to city when Gary’s unique woodcut-art form gained national news in 1975. He has since received international recognition, and Bev has at least 14 scrapbooks of newspaper and magazine articles. There are countless awards.
The Stones have worked tirelessly in preserving local & statewide history, devoting a lifetime to researching pioneer diaries, books and newspaper files, combing remote outposts along the Oregon Trail, the old stagecoach and freight routes of 19th century travel, mining exploration, and discovery of lost graves, as well as being personally involved by preserving and restoring historical sites that have fallen into disrepair, and helping establish groups to continue their preservation.
They were involved in surveying the 1800s era mining sites of a fifty mile stretch of the Snake River Canyon, where some of the best preserved examples of Chinese gold mining activity were discovered and documented.
They wrote and illustrated a coffee-table book, "Stone by Stone on the Oregon Trail" based on authentic pioneer diaries, with artwork painted on sight by Gary in the rugged landscape of Idaho. Activities shown were added at home based on actual happenings told as in diaries, in the pioneer’s own words. They traveled over the Trail, crossed the rivers, visited campsites, found unmarked graves, names marked on rocks and experienced what it must have been like for our forefathers.
As a result, they were asked to represent the state of Idaho during the National Sesquicentennial of the Oregon Trail, where they made a presentation to Congress and the 44 paintings were on display for a week in the Rotunda of the Senate building. They have appeared numerous times on every national TV news channel, C-SPAN, PBS, documentaries and been featured on numerous radio talk shows across the United States. Bev even got to drive a team of mules pulling a covered wagon, bringing back memories of childhood. Gary accompanied the Official wagon train on the trail creating paintings as they went on to Oregon.
The Oregon/California Trail Interpretive Center in Montpelier Idaho used the Stone’s book as the theme for their center, and they were involved in the center’s design. Gary created a large woodcut-painting mural depicting the Oregon Trail in the lobby, and all 44 paintings used as illustrations are on permanent display in a special gallery. At it’s opening, Governor Kempthorne called them “treasures” of the Gem State.
School children and Civic organizations all over Idaho and parts of the Pacific Northwest have seen live presentations of their “Chalk and Talk” skills as Bev relates a story and Gary quick-draws, bringing history and many other subjects to life. That was also included in a segment, of “Cowboy Country,” a television series which ran for several years. Guiding tour buses through the southern part of the state helped make hundreds more people aware of southern Idaho history, sites, trails and stories of early-day pioneers as Gary and Bev worked toward their goals of preservation.
They became members of OCTA, Idaho state Historical Society, Twin Falls Historical Society, Jerome Historical Society, and helped set up Friends of Stricker Ranch, Idaho Farm and Ranch Museum, and other historic preservation projects. Bev also served several years on the Twin Falls Historic Preservation Commission.
Documenting early-day stories of the people and happenings during the gold-rush era, early emigrants, early-day cowboys, stage travel, and more involved interviews with old-timers, researching old newspapers and magazines, reading hundreds of books and selecting stories of the people involved. It was the people Bev focused on for her newspaper column titled “The Way It Was” which ran weekly for nine years until she left to write the Oregon Trail book. They are still busily occupied in their chosen lifestyle, writing and depicting the West.