During the first four decades of its fifty-nine year tenure, the Santa Fe Trail was repeatedly shortened as its eastern terminus was moved progressively westward from the original Missouri River Landing at Franklin to Fort Osage, Independence, Westport, Kansas City and finally Fort Leavenworth. Subsequently, in the next decade, successive sections of the trail were lopped off as a series of prairie ports were established along the westward expansion of the Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division. In the summer of 1866, the railroad reached Junction City, Kansas; and in the following summer, the tracks pushed west to Fort Harker. From both railheads, mail, passengers, and freight were transported down The Fort Riley/Fort Larned Road to strike the established route of the Santa Fe Trail at Walnut Creek, 2 miles east of present Great Bend, Kansas. Consequently, overland traffic on the original route of the Santa Fe Trail east of Walnut Creek ceased.
A portion of the 1870 Map of Kansas compiled by 1st Lt. Henry Jackson
showing The Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road
By October 1867, the railroad had pushed westward to Hays City. The newly organized town only one-half mile from Fort Hays became at once the Union Pacific railhead and the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe Trail. Thus was born The Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road which ran seventy-five miles southwest to strike the established route of the Santa Fe Trail at Fort Dodge. Consequently, overland traffic on the original route of the Santa Fe Trail east of Fort Dodge also came to a halt.
BRANCH: The Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road
DESIGNATION: Fort Hays
LOCATION: The marker is situated at the south side of the Visitors Center parking lot, Frontier Historical Park, commonly called Old Fort Hays, Hays, Kansas
GPS AT MARKER: N38 51.758 -- W99 20.598
TOPOGRAPHICAL EVIDENCE: None
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE: Faint evidence of ruts is found east of the Visitors Center where the wagons left the quartermaster's storehouses to circle north of the parade grounds before turning southwest
USGS AERIAL PHOTO: Fort Hays
MODERN DAY MAP: Santa Fe Trail Map Ellis County, Kansas
TOPOGRAPHIC MAP: Topographic Map
HISTORIC DESCRIPTION: Fort Hays was relocated at this location as an U.S. Army post in June 1867 from its former site south of present Walker, Kansas
COMMENTS: The eastern terminus of The Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road was in nearby Hays City where the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division's depot received mail, passengers, and freight. The depot's location is identified by a marker in present Hays on 10th Street between Main and Fort Street in Railroad Park. The original township survey map indicated that Fort Hays was situated in the NE 1/4 of Section 5. Two other roads are shown; one of them is the road to Fort Larned as indicated in the map on (Site H-2)
LEGAL DESCRIPTION: SE 1/4, Section 5, T-14-S, R-18-W, Ellis County, Kansas
Township 14 South of Range 18 West, Ellis County, Kansas
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