Wagon Bed Spring Grant County, Kansas
There were many campgrounds on the Trail more picturesque than Lower Cimarron Spring (later to be called wagonbed Spring), but there was none more vital to the early traders. For those going to Santa Fe, it was the first dependable watering place on the route after the wagon trains and trail travelers crossed the Arkansas River to the north and headed to the south/southwest, a distance from 35 to 90 miles in distance. This mileage would depend on which route of the Cutoff they would take and just where they would cross the Arkansas River. The first crossing of the Arkansas was at the Lower or Mullberry Creek Crossing, northeast of present Ford, Kansas, Middle Crossing at Cimarron, Kansas and one near present Lakin, Kansas.
For most of these miles to Lower Spring, the Santa Fe Trail ran over flat prairie with no landmarks or guideposts. Mirages would often lead travelers astray. It was easy to get lost where everything looked the same in every direction you looked. Another danger along this part of the Santa Fe Trail was Indian attack. No matter what the dangers were, this desert was the route used most by the traders. Why would they use such a dangerous route? It was a simple matter of time, this was the shortest route to Santa Fe. Just a few miles saved would mean a day or two of travel time. During the forty years of commercial freighting on the Trail, most travelers were familiar with and probably thankful for the place called Lower Cimarron Spring.
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Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.