Wet/Dry Routes Newsletter
Historic Trail Information

Traces - October 1, 1993
Name The Trail

     During its fifty nine year tenure, what is now commonly called the Santa Fe Trail was generally known as The Road to Santa Fe or the Santa Fe Road. Such was in keeping with the language of the 19th century in which an unimproved route was called a road. In the South, an unimproved route was called a trace, a graphic description of terrain impacted by the traffic of vehicles and animals, not unlike the ruts still visible in all five states traversed by The Road to Santa Fe. On the other land, an improved route in the past century was called a highway, so called for the soil and rock being removed from the drainage ditches on both sides of the road and layered on top of the roadbed, thus elevating its height.

Traces - Volume 1 Number 1
Trade Items Brought Back to Missouri

     Among the trade items brought back to Missouri following his first trip to Santa Fe in 1821 were jacks and jennies, forerunners of the famous Missouri mule. In short time, the mule replaced the horse as the preferred draft animal on the Santa Fe Trail. The mule had several advantages over the horse:
(1) The mule was not so susceptible to diseases as horses;
(2) the mule required about one half the amount of grain to supplement grazing as the horse and
(3) the mule was less prone to harness sores than the horse due to its short hair.

     In 1829, But. Maj. Bennet Riley experimented with oxen in the first military escort of freight wagons on the Santa Fe Trail; and by the early 1830's, the ox superseded the mule as the draft animal of choice on the Santa Fe Trail The reasons were several:
(1) Oxen costs less than half the price of mules;
(2) the cost of outfitting oxen was much cheaper than outfitting mules. A yoke ($5.00) and a chain ($5.00) was all that was required for a yoke of oxen as compared to harness for a span of mules costing $25.00;
(3) oxen could subsist by grazing. No grain was needed to supplement their diet as in the case of mules;
(4) the split hoof of the ox spread to provide better traction than the single hoof the mule. Such served well, especially in the sandy of stream beds and the slippery embankments of river crossings; and
(5) Indians did not value oxen as they did horses and mules. Finally, if an ox became lame, he could always be butchered and eaten.

Traces - Volume 1 Number 2
Following the Santa Fe Trail

     As the Santa Fe Trail departed its original terminus at Franklin, Missouri, it followed the wooded valley of the Missouri River westward to the present day Missouri Kansas border. There, the trail turned southwest through the tall grass prairie dominated by big and little blue stem to present day McPherson County. From that point, the blue stem began to fade into buffalo and gamma grasses; and upon reaching Walnut Creek in present day Barton County, the trail was without question in short grass country. Where there was buffalo grass, there were buffaloes, and where there were buffaloes, there were Indians.

     Prior to reaching Walnut Creek, travelers had little need to be concerned about difficulties with Indians; but beginning at Walnut Creek, sentinels were posted at night, and the wagons began to travel four abreast. Such a configuration had several advantages over traveling in single file; In case of Indian attack, each set of four wagons could quickly assemble into a diamond of defense; In case a wagon broke down, the remaining wagons in the caravan did not have to circumvent long line of wagons common to a single file; Such a configuration prevented Indians from cutting off the last few wagons bringing up the rear. Ruts showing the four abreast configuration are replete in many trail locations. One such set of ruts are located adjacent to the north city limits of Larned on the Bob Jost property. Anyone wishing to view these ruts should contact this writer. Please do not trespass on the property.

Traces - Volume 1 Number 3
Coon Creek

     Coon Creek originating in Ford County flows north through Edwards and Pawnee County and empties into the Arkansas River near Garfield where it was crossed by the Wet Route of the Santa Fe Trail. The Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail crossed a tributary of Coon Creek three and a half mile west of present day Kinsley, Kansas, called in the historic period Big Coon Creek. Modern maps label the main channel of the Cook Creek, Big Coon Creek and this tributary Little Coon Creek. To confound the matter further, the Dry Route also crossed Coon Creek south of present day Spearville at a site called Little Coon Creek which was actually a part of the main channel.

Traces - Volume 1 Number 4
Points of Rocks

     At least five separate locations on the Santa Fe Trail are called Points of Rocks.
The First Point of Rocks situated about fifty miles west of Clayton, New Mexico is perhaps the best known of these landmarks. There in 1849, Apaches attacked a little caravan belonging to the James White family. Ann White and her small daughter were captured. During an ill fated rescue attempt by troops from Fort Union, Mrs. White was killed by her captors. The little girl was never heard from again.

     The Second Point of Rocks is located some three miles west of Dodge City, Kansas. This formation, nearly destroyed by highway construction in 1981, was the proposed rendezvous site for Texas freebooters who came north to raid Mexican caravans on the Santa Fe Trail in 1843. There Charles Warfield was to meet John McKaniel and his band of Missourians recruited to serve in a paramilitary force, reportedly at the behest of the Republic of Texas.

     The Third Point of Rocks is found three miles west of Pierceville, Kansas. Near this location in 1867, Sister Mary Alphonsa Thompson died enroute to Santa Fe accompanied by four other nuns and Bishop Jean Lamy.

     The Fourth Point of Rocks is near Middle Spring eleven miles north of Elkhart, Kansas. Undoubtedly this promontory was a landmark for the wagoneers. However, no trail period literature speaks to its presence.

     The Fifth Point of Rocks is near Bent's Old Fort where the Cheyenne/Arapaho Agency was established in 1864.

Traces - Volume 2 Number 1
Identifying Trail Ruts

     People in the lore of the Trail often find it difficulty in identifying ruts. The reason for such is that they are predisposed to think in terms of tracks, two strips the width of a wagon rim (called a tire in the historical period) spaced three-to-four feet apart, the width of a wagon axle. Such would exist only with the recent passage of a wagon over an area not given to much traffic over an extended period of time. Ruts take the form of depressions, sometimes called swales, about the width of a wagon box with an embankment on either side. In some areas, the embankments between the ruts have been leveled by increasing traffic and/or erosion so that a single rut may be many yards wide. Ruts tend to become more pronounced when located at a slope where wheels were braked causing the wagon to skid, thus cutting more deeply into the terrain. Ruts located on slopes are also more prone to drainage thus allowing for increased erosion.

     Further southwest in New Mexico, the lack of rainfall prevents the formation of grass roots which retard the erosion of the ruts. Thus, in such arid areas, the sides of the ruts take on a ragged, vertical appearance. Consequently, such ruts are difficult to distinguish from small streams whose banks have been cut away by heavy rainfall.

     Because of the impaction of the soil, a different type of vegetation often grows within the ruts then in the immediate area of the ruts. Also, because the ruts collect extra moisture, the grass tends to green much earlier within the ruts than adjacent areas. Such differentiation makes ruts quite easy to spot in early spring. Another aid in the identification of ruts is light snow which drifts into the depression area producing broken ribbons of white across an other wise winter brown pasture.

Traces - Volume 2 Number 3
Fort Atkinson, Kansas

     Fort Atkinson, originally called Camp Mackay, was first organized at the middle crossing in 1850. Later it was moved down the Arkansas to a point one half mile west of the Fort Mann site. Later known as New Post and Fort Summer, it was finally designated as Fort Atkinson in 1851. Soldiers, not particularly fond of the place, referred to the post as Fort Sod and Fort Sodom. It was abandoned in October 1854.

Traces - Volume 2 Number 4
Point of Rocks - Dodge City, Kansas

     The Santa Fe Trail landmark called Point of Rocks located four miles west of present day Dodge City was largely destroyed by highway construction in the early 1980's. approaching from the east, the modern day traveler has difficulty in recognizing any particular geology which gave rise to the location's name. However, approaching the landmark from the west, today's traveler can easily observe the stony terrain from which the location's name was derived. The marker for this site has been prepared and will soon be placed, a combined project of the Wet/Dry Route and the Fort Dodge/Dodge City Chapters of the Santa Fe Trail.

Traces - Volume 3 Number 1
Jacks - Jennets - Mules

     Returning to Missouri from its 1823 trip to Santa Fe, the Stephen Cooper party brought back 400 jacks, jennets, and mules, a quantity of beaver, and a considerable sum of species. A jennet, also known as a hinny, is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female donkey. A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. While jennets were not used on the Santa Fe Trail, the mule quickly superceded the horse as the preferred beast of burden.

Traces - Volume 3 Number 2
Becknell & Prairie Dogs

     During his first two trips to Santa Fe, William Becknell crossed the Arkansas River east of Walnut Creek and pursued a course south of the river to the present Dodge City area. During his 1821 journey, Becknell traversed what we now know as the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. There, Becknell encountered animals never previously seen by his eyes; prairie dogs, jackrabbits, and wild horses. Becknell shot a prairie dog but declared its flesh to be "strong and unpalatable."

Traces - Volume 3 Number 3
DAR Santa Fe Trail Markers

     The Daughters of the American Revolution Santa Fe Trail markers placed in the early part of the century give the dates of the trail as 1822-1872. There remains a dispute as to the trail's date of origin. Some contend the date of 1821 should be used as that year William Becknell, setting out to trade with the Indians of the Southwest, ultimately disposed of his trade goods in Santa Fe. Others contend that 1822 is the more appropriate date because in that year Becknell intentionally set out to trade in Santa Fe. There is argument on both sides of the issue. However, the last year of 1872 is not plausible as the trail finally ended its 59 year tenure in 1880 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway constructed a 15 mile spur from its Mainline northward into Santa Fe. The choice of the 1872 date is unfortunate regardless of the unusual logic that in 1872 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reached the Colorado line. Such has no significant relation to the closing of the Santa Fe Trail even in Kansas. In the summer of 1868, the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division reached Sheridan, Kansas and the little city in present Logan County became the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe Trail dispatching merchandise, mail and passengers down a newly developed road to Fort Lyon. Thus, overland traffic on the Santa Fe Trail east of Fort Lyon ceased. Regardless, the 1822-1872 dating is still retained and used (or should one say misused) Time and time again even the official road map of Kansas sports these dates not to mention countless markers, many of which have been placed in recent years. Please join me in pressing for the historical accuracy of the most basic parameters of the Santa Fe Trail.

Traces - Volume 3 Number 4
What is a Crossing?

     The term "crossing" is used in two separate ways in trail conversation. The most frequent use refers to the ford of a stream such as Coon Creek crossing. The other use refers to a length of the trail which traversed a specified region such as the Middle Crossing. The Middle Crossing was one of several routes which ran from the present day Dodge City/Cimarron/Ingalls area southwest some fifty miles to the Cimarron River. Many writers confuse the issue by stating that a particular crossing was located a specific location on the Arkansas River i.e. the lower crossing was located at the mouth of Mulberry Creek. What needs to be said in this regard is that the lower crossing originated at the mouth of Mulberry Creek.

Traces - Volume 4 Number 1
Wheel Measurements

     The distance between the wheels of a train and those of a wagon are precisely the same, four feet, eight and one half inches. This phenomenon results from rails being built according to the specifications used to construct horse drawn trams whose measurements were taken from wagons. This need for measurement goes back to the days of the Roman Empire when chariots were built to universal specifications so the rutted roads of the ancient kingdom could be accommodated.

Traces - Volume 4 Number 2
Black Pool Campsite

     Black Pool, a small spring-fed body of water north east of Ford, Kansas, has long been a subject of interest to Ford County residents in particular and Santa Fe Trail enthusiasts in general. Many 20th century references to Black Pool are available; but until recently, no documentation from the historic period was forthcoming. Two recently discovered diaries document this site as a stopping place.

Traces - Volume 4 Number 3
An Auto Accident on the Santa Fe Trail

     Ed Carlson of Wichita, Chapter member, and former resident of Kinsley sends the following article from the Kinsley Mercury, May 18, 1916.

     Mrs. J.C. Lowry was fatally injured, her husband's shoulder dislocated, their daughter-in-law suffered three broken ribs, and other occupants of a Ford were bruised when their car was ditched on the road one mile southwest of Offerle Tuesday morning at 11 o'clock. Mrs. Lowry succumbed to her injuries that evening at 5:15.

     The Lowry's live seven miles north of Hoisington, from where they had left that morning in two cars for Meade county for a family reunion. They had been making from 30 to 35 miles per hour on the way, it is said, and were happy in the thought that they would soon be with their Meade kinfolks.

     Southwest of Offerle one mile, just over the line in Ford county, is a bad turn in the road, where the highway they were traveling joins the Santa Fe Trail. The Trail at this point is a fill several feet high. Numerous accidents and near accidents have occurred there and the place has been traveled with great caution by motorists who realized its danger. It seems that the first of the Lowry cars almost went into the ditch in making the turn and this nettled the second driver, who lost control of his car, it evidently rolling over and over.

     Are these ruts still visible? Maybe some of our Offerle area members can identify the spot. If so, please respond to your editor.

Traces - Volume 4 Number 3
Black Pool Fact or Fiction

     In recent years, interest has been renewed in a spring adjacent to the wet route of the Santa Fe Trail in Ford County, Kansas. The spring, known in local lore as Black Pool, is situated northeast of Ford, Kansas, about three and a quarter miles west of the point where the Arkansas River makes an abrupt turn to the northwest. Close by the spring is an outcropping of sand-stone in which is carved the following inscription.
Black Pool Dis by E. Post 1843

     A previous landowner scribed the inscription annually; and more recently, some one has etched the characters to a pronounced depth and stained the inscription with some dark material. Resultantly, the inscription is well defined, especially in comparison to other faint inscriptions carved close by.

     In 1859, Charles Post confided to his diary that he had found a beautiful pool which he named Crescent Pool. On June 5, 1859, Post confided to his diary.

     We concluded to travel until noon as we did not have large enough range for our cattle; quite cool, pleasant driving. Our road led up on the high land in consequence of the bluffs running down to river, which is rarely the case on the north side of river, but on south side the sand hills for a great portion of the way lead into river. I was riding ahead of train and found a beautiful pool in a basin some thirty feet lower than the top of bluff with an outlet to the river. I have not yet seen anywhere an account of this pool, so I named it Crescent Pool; it is about seventy-five miles from Pawnee Fork. I carved my name and address in the rocks, also the name of the pool; it is a beautiful spot. We encamped at eleven o'clock for day and night at old Fort Atkinson, nothing of it remains except a bridge with four sides showing the outline of walls which were of sod.

     Post's estimate of pool being seventy-five miles from Pawnee Fork was in error. Fort Atkinson, at which he camped west of the pool, was about sixty eight miles from Pawnee Fork.

    A comparison of the two sites is instructive.
  1. The so called Black Pool is located about forty-nine miles from Pawnee Fork. Crescent Pool was about sixty-eight miles from Pawnee Fork.
  2. The Black Pool inscription is dated 1843. The Crescent Pool inscription was carved in 1859.
  3. The Black Pool inscription speaks to E. Post. The Crescent Pool inscription was the work of Charles Post.

     What then is the resolve for these conflicting accounts? The author feels that the Black Pool inscription is bogus. Until further documentation is found, the author contends that the name of Black Pool is equally erroneous so far as the historic period is concerned. While 20th century newspaper accounts speak often of Black Pool, no 19th century references have as yet been identified which refer to the site as Black Pool.

     However, a single piece of documentation has surfaced which does describe the site, not by name, but by location and appearance. That reference is found in the 1850 diary of William Quesenbury who accompanied a group of Cherokees and Whites from Washington County, Arkansas to the gold fields of California. The route they pursued which came to be called the Cherokee Trail departed a point near present Saline, Oklahoma, entered southeast Kansas and, continued in a northwestwardly orientation to merge with the Santa Fe Trail at Running Turkey Creek in present McPherson County, Kansas. From that juncture, Quesenbury's party followed the Santa Fe Trail to Bents Fort, westward to the Rocky Mountains, and then northward along the eastern slope to Wyoming. There the gold seekers pioneered a new wagon road westward.

Quesenbury's entries for May 23-25 follow:
May 23 (Thursday)
     Owing to there being no grass at all at the creek, we left as soon as we could get breakfast. All day the wind has blowed hard. It has been disagreeable to travel. Buffalo in sight all the time. No grass all day. Nooned near a stream where a wagon had been abandoned. Got some of the spokes for stakes. At Pawnee Fork the banks were steep but the wagons got over without difficulty. Pawnee Fork is the largest stream we have crossed since we left the Verdigris. The course of the road has been almost due south for the last five or six hours. At night concluded I would finish a letter I had commenced. Wrote till ten, and then was kept awake till twelve by Jack Hildebrand and someone else talking just outside by tent. Buffalo dung! The little prairie dog is doing well.

May 24 (Friday)
     This stream that we are camped on I think comes from a spring. It is twelve or fifteen feet wide on an average, and of the same depth all the way that I have been along. It can't be crossed but on horses without wading. Got off from the creek about nine. Road still S. Buffaloes constantly in sight. Buckner killed one but it was poor. Nooned at a pond close by the side of the road on the left hand. Ducks on it. Took a nap under the wagon. Made about twenty miles. I suppose, we have no way of measuring distance. Our encampment is now on the bank of the Arkansas for the first time. The water is not so dark as it is at Fort Smith, it about the same color as the Rio Grande. It is as warm however, as it has anywhere been. The range is still bad. We must be in the middle of the Great Buffalo Range. Dog towns continue. Buffalo dung for fuel.

May 25 (Saturday)
     Permitted our animals to graze for sometime before we got off. Our road is as ever, but runs almost due south. Led Buckner's pack animals to give him a chance for a buffalo. Whilst we were nooning, he, Merrill and some others came in with a large supply of meat. Riley Buchanan and myself, after a hard chase caught a dog in the ----- of a city. But killed it in the taking. Our road ran closer to the river bank than it has heretofore. Pyeatt, Jo Williams and myself went over on to an island. Nothing but a land bank with grass and stunted cottonwood lies on it. Passed a large spring some forty yards to the left of the road. A great many names are carved on the rock. We learned from the inscriptions the ox team company had passed here on the 17th. A short distance after passing the spring, two or three Indians came to us. They were on patrol. Left the road and camped about a quarter of mile from the river for the convenience of water. We still use buffalo dung. The Indians camped with us. It appears that leaving Pawnee Fork, the gold seekers followed the Santa Fe Trail to Coon Creek (11 miles) and continued on some twenty miles to camp on the Arkansas. On May 25, the party pressed on to the southwest where Quesenbury observed "A large spring some forty yards to the left of the road." A short distance later, the Arkansawyers went into camp. If we would allow twenty miles of travel for May 25, the same as Quesenbury estimate for the 24th, and add 11 miles for the distance between Pawnee Fork and Coon Creek, the total would be fifty-one miles. Deduct two miles for the distance between the spring and the campsite, and the figure of forty-nine miles will appear, the actual distance between Pawnee Fork and the so called Black Pool.

One final note.
     The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter has several markers in the immediate area of Black Pool: one about three fourth mile east which identifies the September 5 campsite of the 1825 Survey Team; another about one half mile west which marks the ruts traversing the entire length of the pasture in which the spring is located; and still another about one fourth mile north west where the ruts again make brief appearance.

     "The Arkansas Route: The Diary of Charles C. Post," in Overland Routes to the Gold Fields 1859 From Con-temporary Diaries, The Southwest Historical Series, Vol. II (1942), 42.

     William Quesenbury's Diary, Flashback Vol. 29 No. 1-4 (February, May, August, and November of 1979, Washington County Arkansas Historical Society.

     Jack E. and Patricia K.A. Fletcher, "The Cherokee Trail," Overland Journal 13, 1995.

Traces - Volume 4 Number 4
Navigation of the Arkansas River

     The Arkansas River, Navigatable or Not? In late Spring of 1843, Bent, St. Vrain and Company floated five wagons load of buffalo robes down the Arkansas River in shallow draft boats constructed especially for the voyage. Some where en route, the boats were stranded on sand bars; and wagons were dispatched to retrieve the hopeless voageuis and their reluctant cargo. In 1872, the river's navigability was once again tested. The following from the Topeka Daily Common-wealth was provided to the Traces by the ever alert Ed Carlson, one of the Chapter's long distance but energetic members.

     "11 July: Correspondence to the Commonwealth dated Great Bend 06 July, "The A.T.&S.F.R.R. track is laid within thirteen miles of this place and a week hence we shall be rejoicing, doubtless, in welcoming the iron horse to our city. The railroad company are building a boom across the Arkansas river at the mouth of the Walnut, about three miles below here, for the purpose of holding a large amount of railroad ties that are to be rafted down the Arkansas from the mountains, and distributed at this point." Did the railroad ties reach the Walnut, or did they too become stranded by the fickle, ever changing crossing the Arkansas River?"
Perhaps, future research will tell.

Traces - Volume 4 Number 4
Putting Shoes on an Oxen

     In the early days of the Santa Fe Trail, the hooves of oxen were shod in moccasins of raw buffalo hide. Later, the oxen were shod with steel shoes, each foot requiring two separate shoes due to the split hoof of the oxen. Oxen were difficult to shoe because unlike the horse or mule it is impossible for a bovine to stand on three legs. Thus, in settlements, Farriers used a windlass to elevate the ox while the shoes were attached. Away from such a device on the trail, the oxen had to be placed on the ground, their legs tied, and the shoes nailed on.

Traces - Volume 5 Number 1
Fires on the Santa Fe Trail

     Again, Ed Carlson has provided "Traces" with an interesting item from an early edition of the Kinsley Graphic. If fires could be kept away from the river for five years, there would be quiet a heavy belt of cottonwood timber along that stream, from one end of the valley to the other. The young trees come up every spring, and thrive the whole season and until killed by fire. It is just so along the Coon and in all the low or damp places in the valley. In breaking up the old fields in the spring, many of them are just literally covered with young cottonwoods. Now, when the country becomes thickly settled, prairie fires will be kept out and these young trees will have a chance to grow. There is no question but what time will come when this country will grow its own fuel. Both up and down the Arkansas river there is an abundance of timber, and trees such as cottonwood, elm, plum and a few other varieties, have no enemies in this climate but the prairie fires. Even the Pawnee, twenty five miles east of us, the Saw Log or Buckner, fifteen miles west, and all the streams thirty to forty miles south, were well supplied with timber until it was cut down and hauled off by settlers. The Forts Larned and Dodge have been supplied with wood for the past twenty years, cut from the little creeks mentioned, and there is no calculating the timber used up by the travel over the Santa Fe Trail for years and years. Plant trees and take care of them after they are planted, is all that is required to grow timber in this country.

Traces - Volume 5 Number 1
Floating the Arkansas River

     In a previous issue of "Traces", mention was made of railroad ties being floated down the Arkansas river form the mountains in Colorado to the mouth of Walnut Creek east of Great Bend in 1872. Additional information on the subject comes form Jetmore's favorite rep, Richard Ford. Richard quoted from Craig Minor's West of Wichita that the ties numbered 200,000. Minor's account, the Hutchinson News, July 18, 1872, tells the full story.

     "From up the River we had a long conversation with Mr. J. S. Duncan, who with his brother has just finished a boom across the Arkansas river, between Zarah and Great Bend, (Kansas) against which to lodge ties floated form the mountains for A.T. & S.F.R.R. Mr. D. says they will have no trouble in catching the ties. The boom is 805 feet long, 350 feet of which is very (work illegible) made of heavy pieces of timber, Bolted together with iron bolts, and swung angling across the stream, with large guys extending to the shore. Messrs. Duncan are brothers in law of Mr. Green, who has a contract with the A.T. & S.F.R.R. for getting out 200,000 ties. Mr. Green cut the ties in the Rocky Mountains, near Fair Play post office, and proposed floating them six hundred miles down the Arkansas river, to the above mentioned boom. We presume the floating operation has already commenced. It is proposed to throw about twenty thousand ties in at a time and have a body of men follow in boats and otherwise, to prevent them lodging. Mr. Green is sanguine of success, we learn, and if the experiment succeeds it will throw a new impetus into the timber region of this valley. There is a vast amount of timber in the mountains, and if crossties can be floated down other timber can. Mr. Duncan says that if the experiment succeeds a company will be immediately formed for getting down a general assortment of lumber. He promises to let us hear from the enterprise frequently."

Traces - Volume 5 Number 1
Kinsley Graphic
Saturday 24, January 1880

     This contemporary account does not agree with many of the "Uncle Joe" stories which have been told and retold over the past several decades. However, it does square with first hand accounts of the period found in diary and journal accounts. George Bent wrote Joseph B. Thoburn on July 12, 1911:

     "Black Kettle has no grandchildren living as he never had no children during his life."

     Bent's testimony should put to rest the claim of some who contend they are the Chief's descendants.

Traces - Volume 05 Number 2
The Dry Route Revisited

     Larry & Carolyn Mix have discovered documentation which clearly demonstrates that the Dry Route had as its original western terminus the Caches some four miles west of present Dodge City. The other terminus was located ten miles east of the Caches. It appears that for a period, the road to the Caches and the road to the point ten miles east of the Caches operated simultaneously. By the early 1850's, however, the road to the Caches lost favor and fell into disuse. Plotting the roads on a modern map from Big Coon Creek Crossing west of present Kinsley, the road to the Caches passed about one mile north of present Offerle; and the road to the point ten miles east of the Caches passed about one mile south of Kinsley.

Traces - Volume 05 Number 2
Early Hays City

     We are indebted to Post Returns the newsletter for the Society of Friends of Historic Fort Hays for the following article. Devotees of the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road will find this information helpful.

     The railroad was obviously an extremely important factor in the settlement of western towns. Most towns with rail connections prospered while many of those that had no such connections withered and died. Towns that had both the railroad and a military post nearby were almost guaranteed to succeed. The military brought a certain amount of security against desperadoes and safety from hostile Native Americans. Forts also meant dollars to business men and women, whether their business concerns were freighting, railroading, general merchandising, gambling, prostitution, or any one of a hundred other professions, legitimate or not. A ready and willing client was waiting inside the confines of the military reservation in the form of Uncle Sam's troopers who were always looking for ways to spend their hard earned, government-issued greenbacks. Forts also meant jobs for those nearby civilians who wished to harvest hay, cut wood, haul coal or supply any of the other services needed to keep the forts running smoothly. Fort Hays had two towns vying for its affections. The first to arrive on the scene actuatlly predated the fort itself.

     In May 1867 a firm referred to only as "Lull Brothers of Salina" founded the town of Rome in an oxbow of Big Creek along the proposed route of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, that was rapidly building west-ward toward Denver. Some early residents included Simon Motz (the future first mayor of Hays City), William Rose and William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody (incorrectly said to have been co-founders of the town), and James Duncan (president of the town company). The town quickly boasted of having three "merchandise establishments," a two-story frame hotel, and a stone business house built by Roseand Cody, as well as "half a dozen other places of business and industry," according to Motz. But Rome experienced an early setback that was to prove disastrous to its future development. On June 7 a flood (the same that hit old Fort Hays near present-day Walker) worried railroad engineers. To protect the tracks from any future floods, the roadbed was raised three and one-half feet where a bridge was to be built over Big Creek. This created a dike on the south side of Rome. With Big Creek surrounding the town on the other three sides, Rome was effectively isolated from the outside world. But the town's developers and its five hundred inhabitants continued to be optimistic. Fort Hays was moved to a spot south of Rome within a month, and by August 1867 fort records referred to Rome as "the settlement on Big Creek near this post."

     Rome had many businesses but the "liquor business" was by far the most lucrative. Simon Motz remarked that the "saloon business was thriving and continous all day, all night, no halt, no intermission." The first major altercation between soldiers and civilians resulted from this "business." Captian Henry Corbin (Company C, Thirty-eighth Infantry), commander of Fort Hays, reported that "some evil disposed person" was spreading rumors that hostile Indians were in the area and urging railroad workers west of Rome to return to the safety of the town and fort. Once the workers returned, they were sold "bad whiskey" and would lay around "drunk, ragged and filthy." To combat this problem, Corbin ordered a detail of Thirty-eighth Infantry soldiers into Rome on August 12 with orders to confiscate all the liquor in the town, "save those who have License from Civil or Superior Military Authority to the Commandant of this Post." One of the town's more celebrated residents, William F. Cody, lost "4 gals.

Traces - Volume 5 Number 4
Jones Point Confirmed

     Some six miles southwest of the Pawnee Fork crossing at present Larned, Kansas, the Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail reached the location where Michael and Lawrence Smith, employees of the Hall and Porter Mail Company, were killed by Kiowas on September 24, 1859. Marking that site is a bronze plaque mounted on a limestone post which reads Jones Point, the name of the location according to James Brice, a fellow stage company employee of the Smiths. Your editor was pleased to read in the August 1998 Wagon Tracks the October 22, 1858 diary entry of Charles W. Finley: "Left camp early and breakfasted at Buffalo wallow west of Big Coon, suppered near Jones Point." Observe that Finley, also then Hall and Porter employee, makes reference to Jones Point. It is helpful to have this second source to confirm Brice's testimony.

Traces - Volume 5 Number 4
Transportation of Mail & Passengers

     Prior to the advent of the Concord coach on the Santa Fe Trail in the early 1860's, mail and passengers were transported in several wagons, whatever number was required to haul mail, baggage, and equipment for camping and cooking. Such a retinue employed as many as eight men: drivers, outriders, and conductor. The conductor who sometimes shared the driving was ultimately responsible for the welfare of the passengers and safe and timely delivery of the mail.

Traces - Volume 6 Number 1
Chief - Peace Marker

     Many writers, both 18th and 19th century, mistakenly identified significant wariors as chiefs. George Bent clarified this notion as folows:

     "The whites have the wrong idea about Indian Chiefs. Among the Plains Indians a chief was elected as a peace and civil officer and there was no such office as war chief. What the whites call war chiefs were only warriors of distinction. Roman Nose was never a chief, and Red Cloud, at the height of his fame, was only a distinguished warrior. When he was elected chief he lost most of real power. Some of these so-called war chiefs were often headmen of the soldier societies, and when matters of importance came up the chief usually referred them to these warrior societies for settlement, and so they really had more power than the chief. But the Indian idea of a chief is not a fighter but a peace maker. About 1832 High-back Wolf, a great Cheyenne chief, ran out of his lodge to help some relatives in a village quarrel; he was stabbed to death. The Cheyennes said he deserved this; he was a chief and had no business to fight even in aid of his closest kinsmen."
Life of George Bent Written From His Letter, P. 324

Traces - Volume 6 Number 1
Steerhide Cradle

     At some unknown date, freight wagons on the Santa Fe Trail began to utilized a practical addition. That invention was a steerhide strung beneath the wagon to haul fire wood should the caraban reached a campsite bereft of either wood or buffalo chips. This simple but useful accessory would later be adopted by cattle man for use with the chuck wagon. The cowboys called the steerhide a cuny, a corruption of the Spanish Cuba, cradle. A fitting title, the steerhide did resemble a cradle of sorts, suspended beneath the wagon box.

Traces - Volume 6 Number 2
Brakes on a Covered Wagon

     Not until the 1840's did freight wagons used on the Santa Fe Trail have a braking system. Prior to that time, the wheels would be sometimes locked in place by chairs when the wagon was making steep descent.

Traces - Volume 6 Number 2
The Pawnee River - Part #1

     This is the first in a series of articles prepared by your editor concerning use of an often mentioned stream associated with the Sante Fe Trail, The Pawnee River in Kansas.

     From its headwaters in northwest Gray County, Kansas, the Pawnee River flows some fifteen miles northeast to bisect the southeast corner of Finney County and continues eastward through Hodgeman County before making an abrupt northern turn to clip the southern corner of Ness County. From that point, the stream turned to the southeast returning to Hodgeman County and thence eastward through Pawnee County where it empties into the Arkansas River near Larned. Along its ninety-odd mile course are located several sites of historic note: The Cheyenne/Sioux village in Ness County destroyed by order of Major General Hancock in 1867; the Pawnee Fork crossing on the Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road where the trading ranche established in 1869 was later operated by George Duncan; Fort Larned in Pawnee County, established as Camp on Pawnee Fork in 1859; and The Dry Route crossing of the Sante Fe Trail three miles east of the fort where Samuel Parker established trading ranch later owner by A. H. Boyd. Other Pawnee County sites include the location of Parker's original ranch six miles east of The Dry Route Crossing and the crossing of The Wet Route on the Santa Fe Trail about one half mile further east.

     Beyond the significance of the sites mentioned in the above, the stream provided a pathway for historic expeditions. In 1845, Captain John C. Fremont left the Santa Fe Trail at the mouth of the Pawnee and followed its course westward to its headwaters before turning northwest to the Smoky Hill River. In 1852, Lt. Israel Woodruff conducted a reconnaissance of the area between the Kansas and Arkansas Rivers to locate sites for military posts and new route for the Santa Fe Trail. In so doing, he followed the Pawnee southwest toward the Arkansas. In 1855, Lieutenant Francis T. Bryan led an expedition from Fort Riley to survey a new road to the Arkansas. At the Smoky Hill crossing near present Kanapolis, Kansas, the expedition turned southwest to Walnut Creek and on to the Pawnee, tracing the latter to its headwaters before turning south to strike the Arkansas at recently abandoned Fort Atkinson.

     In connection with the Woodruff expedition, the Pawnee River (most often known by the time as Pawnee Fork) took on a new designation. In exploring the area, Woodruff identified three streams which he called the north fork, the middle fork, and the south fork. The north fork, he called Heth's Branch honor of Second Lieutenant Henry Heth, then stationed at Fort Atkinson. This stream is now called the Pawnee River. The middle fork which emptied into the north fork was named Buckner's Creek in honor of Captain Simon B. Buckner, also assigned to Fort Atkinson. The south fork which empties into Buckner Creek was labeled Schaaf in honor of Brevet Second Lieutenant John T. Schaaf. another Fort Atkinson officer.

Traces - Volume 6 Number 2
The Pawnee River - Part #2

     This is the second of a series of articles related to the Pawnee River. At its headwaters in Gray County, the Pawnee River (Pawnee Fork) is a little trickle, but at its confluence with the Arkansas River near Larned, the stream takes on much larger proportions. During the historic period, the Pawnee emptied into the Arkansas near the railroad trestle bridge at the south edge of Larned adjacent to the bridge which now spans U.S. 56. There was the crossing of the Santa Fe Trail which was recognized as a ford fraught with danger and difficulty. Normally the Pawnee was not deep; but during the spring, the stream was swollen to great depths and widths.

     So flooded was the Pawnee in 1844 that a Bent-St.Vrain caravan was held up at the crossing from April 23 to May 21. Similar difficulty was experienced by the command of Col. Stephen Watts Kearny who arrived at the Pawnee on July 4, 1846 during the onset of the Mexican War. The stream being impassable, Kearny waited until July 16 when he, "Caused trees to be felled across the deep, rapid current. On the trunks of these trees, the men passed over. In this manner, the principal loading of the wagons was transported." On the same day, Lt. William H. Emory's squad of topographical engineers made the crossing on a raft; and on September 9, the Mormon Battalion camped on the west bank of the river after a harrowing crossing. Sgt. Daniel Tyler described the incident well.

     On the evening of the 9th, we encamped on a stream known as Pawnee Fork, the crossing of which was very difficult, and occupied much time. Each wagon had to be let down the bank with ropes, while on the opposite bank from ten to twenty men with ropes aided the teams in pulling the wagons up. The water was muddy, very much like that of the Missouri River.

The Mormon experience was a repeat of a crossing in 1844 described by James Josiah Webb.
     The second day after, we arrived at Pawnee Fork, and, as the crossing was very difficult, we concluded to turn out, repair the road, and prepare for crossing the next morning. The east bank must be from twenty to thirty feet above the water and very steep so much so, that we were compelled to lock both hind wheels, hitch a yoke of good wheelers to the hind axle, and all the men that can be used to advantage to assist in holding back and prevent the wagon from turning over. Even with all these precautions, accidents frequently happen, and the descent is so rapid the teams get doubled up and oxen run over.

     The next morning we began crossing; and when the wagons were about half across, one of Wethered's wagons turned over into the stream. The west bank was steep but not so high as the east one. Yet we had to double teams to get out and make a short and very difficult turn up the stream; so the wagon fell into deep water and bottom up. All hands took to the water and in two or three hours succeeded in getting dry goods and wagon to camp on the opposite bank. The next two days were spent in opening the goods, and spreading them on the ground to dry, repacking, and loading up. Two of the best hunters were sent out to kill meat and brought in a large amount, a part of which was jerked and hung around the wagons to dry.

     The record is replete with references such as those cited in the above which attest to the Pawnee as presenting one of the more difficult crossings in the entire length of the Santa Fe Trail.

Traces - Volume 6 Number 3
Cheyenne Indians

     The Cheyenne Indians did not present much of a threat to the encroaching whites until 1857 when Col. E. V. Sumner's troops attacked a village of Northern Cheyennes. Sumner then ordered that annuity goods for Cheyennes stored at Bent's New Fort be distributed to other tribes, and caused the lead, powder, and flints designated for the Cheyennes to be thrown into the Arkansas River. Prior to that time, the Bents' influence had promoted a good relationship between the tribes and European-Americans; but subsequent to the Sumner incident, the relationship began to deteriorate culminating in the so-called Indian Wars of 1864 onwards.

Traces - Volume 6 Number 4
Putting Shoes on an Oxen

     Many issues ago, this column provided information regarding a contraption which was used to shoe oxen. The contrivance rigged with a belly sling and a windlass was used to elevate the ox, thus rendering him immobile while shoes were nailed to his hooves. Such a procedure was useful as a bovine unlike an equine has much difficulty in standing on three legs. Recently, this writer had the opportunity to visit the Mount Pleasant Shaker Village in Kentucky. There, one of the staff related that this type of contraption was referred to variously as a ox press, an ox sling, or shoeing stalls. The latter designation was confirmed a few days later by an old fellow in Virginia who described his father shoeing oxen on their family farm. He said, "We put them in the stalls." At least we now know what to call the contraption.

Ox Shoe Sling In Use

(Note from Larry E. Mix)
     I believe this is what David was talking about. I took this picture several years ago at the Hays House Restaurant in Council Grove, Kansas.

     There is also a painting of the same contraption as David calls it in the Kaw Mission, also in Council Grove, Kansas. This picture was taken at the Santa Fe Trail Symposium in 1999.

Traces - Volume 6 Number 4
The Pawnee River - Part #3

     This is the third of a series of articles related to the Pawnee River. In the first installment, the Pawnee River was traced from its headwaters in Grey County to its confluence with the Arkansas River near Larned, Kansas. The second article described the Santa Fe Trail crossing at that confluence as one of the most difficult on the entire length of the trail. This third and final article will speak to the various names used to designate the stream in the early part of the 19th century.

     In July 1820, Captain John Bells party, separating from Major Stephen Long's exploratory expedition, followed the Arkansas River eastward to the Pawnee River which he called Vulture Creek.

     In 1821, while William Becknell was making his inaugural trip to Santa Fe New Mexico on the south bank of the Arkansas River, the trapping party led by Hugh Glenn and Jacob Fowler were pursuing the north bank of the Arkansas. On October 20 of that year, the party arrived at the Pawnee. Fowler, without question, one of the 19th century's worst spellers, recorded in his diary that the party crossed the "poney River." In 1839, the celebrated Matt Field, recorded the Spanish designation of the Pawnee, "Rio de Panamas." Five years later, Rufus Sage reported that the Indians called the stream Otter Creek because of the abundance of otters found along its course.

     In a generic fashion, many 19th century writers, referred to the stream as a creek. Such persists to this day with local Larnedites referring to the Pawnee as the creek to distinguish it from the Arkansas which they call the river.

Traces - Volume 7 Number 2
Santa Fe Trail Timeline

     In 1821: Missouri gained statehood. Mexico won its independence from Spain. William Becknell opened the Santa Fe Trail. Moses Austin led American colonists to the Texas province of Mexico.

     In 1835: William Becknell moved to Texas. David Crockett, en route to the Alamo, Conferred with Becknell at his Clarksville, Texas home.

     In 1836: Texas revolutionaries were victorious over Mexican forces. William Becknell organized Texas volunteer company, the Red River Blues.

     In 1856: William Becknell died at Clarksville, Texas. As early as 1822, American traders continued south of Santa Fe 580 miles to Chihuahua City to market their merchandise. Such trade prospered through the 1840ís. Maybe the Road to Santa Fe might also be called the Road to Chihuahua.

Traces - Volume 7 Number 3
Traders Continued South of Santa Fe, New Mexico

     As early as 1822, American traders continued south of Santa Fe 580 miles to Chihuahua City to market their merchandise. Such trade prospered through the 1840ís. Maybe the Road to Santa Fe might also be called the Road to Chihuahua.

Traces - Volume 10 Number 3
Boyd's Ranche

     Samuel Parker established a trading ranche at this location in 1865. Changing hands several times, the ranche was owned by a Mr. Wagginer in 1867 when Indians burned the buildings and drove off the livestock. The next proprietor, A. H. Boyd, constructed a toll bridge at the nearby crossing and built a sod house from which he engaged in cattle trading and freighting in addition to the usual sales associated with trading ranches. In 1873, Boyd partnered with George B. Cox to operate a hotel in the infant town of Larned. In the same year, the partners moved to Dodge City to open the Dodge House. Subsequently, Boyd filed a homestead on the ranche property and brought family members from Illinois to farm the acreage.

Traces - Volume 10 Number 3
Parker's Ranche

     At this location in 1864, Samuel Parker established a trading ranche. In the following year, he opened another ranche near the dry route crossing of the Santa Fe Trail on the Pawnee River three miles upstream from this point. Parker continued to operate this ranche for several years before moving to Fort Supply, Indian Territory, where he served as the post's hay contractor.

Traces - Volume 13 Number 1
Larned's First Christmas

     A letter from George Worrell published in the Larned Chronoscope December 22, 1927 recalls Larned's first Christmas in 1873. George was the brother of Isabel Worrell, Larned's first teacher who held class in what was originally the saloon in the Little Red House. The Worrell family occupied the rest of the building. The letter reads:

     "I well remember the first Christmas tree in Larned. A young ash tree was cut out on Ash Creek. It was wrapped carefully in cotton, decorated with anything that could be procured. The whole town was there and there wasn't a very big crowd then. I have an idea that one class in any Sunday school this year will get more presents and costing more money than all that was on that first tree. But everybody got something - no one was missed. It might be only a naked stick of horehound candy with a string around it, but it was taken off the tree - name called and delivered, as it is today. Such as they had. The true Christmas spirit was there. They met that night only as friends and fellow beings. I have been to many since that night, but don't believe that the anticipation by the children is any greater today than then, or that the simple toys of that first tree were any less valued by the kids than are those from off the finest tree you will have in your city this year."

     Fourth grade students from the Larned's Northside School, cut an ash tree on Ask Creek, wrapped it in cotton, and reenacted the first Christmas. The little building was bursting at the seams to accommodate parents and grandparents of the students. Hats off to Mrs. Judy Redding, fourth grade teacher who always lends support to this event.

Traces - Volume 14 Number 2
Santa Fe Trail Routes In Wet/Dry Routes Chapter Area

     For the sake of those who are wishing to make day trips of the Wet/Dry Rroutes area, the following is a digest of the various Santa Fe Trail routes which can be taken.

The Wet Route
     The Wet Route, sometimes call the river route, followed the Arkansas River from Pawnee Fork to the southwest around the south bend of the stream near present Ford, Kansas and west to present Dodge City on to the Caches. There, the Wet Route met with the original Dry Route.

The Original Dry Route
     The original Dry Route split from the Wet Route some 3-4 miles southwest of Pawnee Fork at a location called Forks in Santa Fe Road. Leaving the river valley, the Dry Route ran west southwest to cross Big Coon Creek west of present Kinsley and on to the Caches as described previously. During one period, the Dry Route merged with the Wet Route at the Caches and at a point one mile east of the site selected for the establishment of Fort Dodge. Finally, the Dry Route ran only to the site near Fort Dodge.

The Second Dry Route
     Subsequent to the establishment of Camp on Pawnee Fork in 1859 (later Fort Larned), the Dry Route veered from the regular Santa Fe Trail about a mile and one fourth southwest of Ash Creek, continued on to cross Pawnee Fork three miles east of Fort Larned, and proceed up the south bank of the stream to Fort Larned. From there, the Dry Route ran southwest to cross Big Coon Creek and finally strike the Wet Route at the point previously described as one mile east of the Fort Dodge location.

The Third Dry Route
     In 1866, a third variant of the Dry Route developed. Running from the same junction of the second Dry Route southwest of Ash Creek, it pursued the north bank linking the Pawnee to Fort Larned. From there, it followed the same orientation as the second Dry Route to the location near Fort Dodge.

The Fort Larned Military Road
     The Fort Larned Military Road ran southwest out of Fort Larned as the Dry Route is described in the above. After following this route some three miles, turned almost due south to merge with the Wet Route at Coon Creek one mile southwest of present Garfield, Kansas.

The Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road
     The Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road ran seventy-five miles southwest from Hays City to Fort Dodge. Along the way, it crossed the Smoky Hill River, Big Timbers Creek, Pawnee Fork, Buckner Creek, and Sawlog Creek.

     For a detailed description of these routes visit Larry and Carolyn Mix's web site {www.santafetrailresearch.com/}. A link to, A Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites can be found on this page.

Traces - Volume 15 Number 1
The following is Josiah Greggs listing of provisions per man

     "The ordinary supplies for each man's consumption during the journey, are about fifty pounds of flour, as many more of bacon, ten of coffee and twenty of sugar, and a little salt. Beans, crackers, and trifles of that description, are comfortable appendages, but being looked upon as dispensable luxuries, are seldom to be found in any of the stores on the road. The buffalo is chiefly depended upon for fresh meat, and great is the joy of the traveler when that noble animal first appears in sight."

Other stuff about the preparation of food on the Trail
     For the most part, the personnel in the caravan would be divided into messes of five-six men who would be responsible for the preparation of meals for their group. Tom Crammer, who compiled Rules and Regulations by which Wagon Trains, wrote:

     We always find it best to move a train on the road by messes, from the fact that men generally prefer messing together from friendship, and then if an accident happens to a man on the road, he could more justly depend on his mess-mates for assistance than on any one else; besides, they want their wagons together on account of greasing.

Sometimes a cook was employed. Crammer described the cook's duties as follows:
     It is the duty of the cook, after he has been furnished with wood and water, to prepare the meals of his mess. He should depend on none but himself to take care of his cooking equipage. When we drive before breakfast, which is a general rule, he should have a cold snack of refreshments for his mess-mates immediately after starting. It is also his duty to see that the sick of his mess are properly cared for. He should invariably put his mess "kit" in its proper place at night before he retires, also at noon before the cattle are in the corral. Though he is as mentioned in Article 1, excused from all other duties except to yoke, drive and unyoke his team, prepare for yoking, and, of course, assist in all other duties while the train is in motion.

     Crammer's publication was printed in 1866 when the huge freighting firms, operating under strict regulations, were the major America freighter on the Santa Fe Trail.

Traces - Volume 15 Number 4
Get It Right

     Recently, your editor had the opportunity to visit the site of Fuller's Ranche in McPherson County. There, a marker identifies this location as the site of the ranche where later the town of Empire was established. Also inscribed is the following, 1825 Santa Fe Trail 1878. This is only one of many markers inscribed with inaccurate dates of the Santa Fe Trail. The Daughters of the American Revolution Markers are incised 1822-1872. The Madonna of the Trail Marker at Council Grove states that the Santa Fe Trail was established at Council Grove on August 10, 1825. These are only a few of such erroneous dates which have been made public with regard to the tenure of the Santa Fe Trail. With the slightest research effort, the fifty-nine year period of the Santa Fe Tral can easily be documented as occurring between 1821 and 1880. Hopefully, the national Santa Fe Trail and National Park Service will address this issue.

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