Santa Fe Trail Research Site Wet and Dry Routes Chapter
Wet/Dry Routes Chapter
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Zebulon Pike Memorial Plaza

     "The Wet/Dry Route" was a section of the Santa Fe Road that ran from just northeast of Larned, Kansas, in the area of Pawnee Rock, Kansas and Ash Creek Crossing to Fort Dodge, Kansas then to a place called "The Caches." Fort Dodge is about five miles east of the present town of Dodge City, Kansas and The Caches is about five miles west of Dodge City. At or near Larned, Kansas the Santa Fe Trail split into three main and separate trails with branches joining them together along the way to Dodge City, Kansas.

     "The Wet Route" pretty much follows US 56 from the Big Bend of the Arkansas campground at Ellinwood, Kansas, following the river to the southwest out of Larned, Kansas to the town of Kinsley. At this point the Wet Route stayed close to the Arkansas River all the way to Dodge City, Kansas. At Dodge City the Wet Route continued west along the river to Bent's Fort in Colorado. But at Dodge City, the trail changes its name to the "Mountain Route" US 50 west of Dodge City, Kansas to La Junta, Colorado is very close to the route the Santa Fe Trail followed. US 56 across the State of Kansas is also very close to one branch or the other of the Santa Fe Road.

     Along "The Wet Route" there are place names like; August 30 1825 Campsite of Santa Fe Road Survey Team, Ash Creek Crossing, Sibley's Camp, Parker's Ranche, Pawnee Fork Crossing, Sibley's Ridge, Coon Creek Crossing, Plain Camp, Love's Defeat, Battle of Coon Creek, Sept.3, 1825 Campsite of Santa Fe Road Survey Team, Little Pond, Garbriel's Barbeque, September 4, 1825 Campsite of the Santa Fe Road Survey Team, September 5, 1825 Campsite of the Santa Fe Road Survey Team, Point of Inception or the Lower Crossing, Mulberry Creek Ford, Small Drain, Jackson's Island, Western Terminus of the Wet and Dry Routes of the Santa Fe Trail.
    The Caches, Point of Rocks, and Sept. 10, 1825 Survey Team Campsite. The river had water in it all the time, so this part of the trail was called

     "The Original Dry Route" branched from the Wet Route at Forks in Santa Fe Road about 3.5 miles southwest of Pawnee Fork Crossing at the southwest corner of Larned, Kansas on US 56. This Original Dry Route went across the "dry ridge" to the north of Garfield and Kinsley, Kansas, crossing the Hillside Cemetery northwest of Kinsley, to Coon Creek Crossing about one mile southwest. After Crossing Coon Creek the Original Dry Route went to the north of present day Offerle, Kansas, then to present Dodge City, Kansas, then to a place called "The Caches" west to Dodge City, Kansas. Caches is in an area to the northwest of Forts Mann and Fort Atkinson. Ruts on this Original Dry Route can be found near Garfield, US 183, Kinsley, Offerle, Spearville and Dodge City, Kansas as traced from 1938 aerial photos. A close study of the mileage charts on this website will shed some understanding about this little known fact of the Original Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail and the route it took.

     "The Later Dry Route" begins in the area of Pawnee Rock and Ash Creek Crossing an area to the northeast of Larned, Kansas. This route ran from this point across the Larned Cemetery, Larned State Hospital to Boyd's Ranche on the west side of the Pawnee Creek. From this location it runs to the southwest to Big Coon Creek Crossing west of the town of Kinsley, Kansas. It crossed Coon Creek and then headed to the southwest going to the south of Offerle, Kansas to meet with the Wet Route about one mile to the east of Fort Dodge, Kansas. Along the Dry Route there were very few places that water could be found, a few small creeks but nothing major.

    After "The Later Dry Route" also went along the north side of the Pawnee Creek to Fort Larned and crossed the Pawnee River on the west side of the Fort, at the Sutler's Store. From this point it went to the south and joined up with The Wet Route of the Santa Fe Trail at a point where the trail crossed the Big Coon Creek just west of present-day Garfield, Kansas. This section of Santa Fe Trail that runs from Fort Larned, Kansas to the junction with The Wet Route is called The Fort Larned Military Road.

     "The Dry Routes" have places with names like; Forks in Santa Fe Road, Jones Point, Pawnee Fork Crossing, Boyd's Ranche, Rock Hollow, Big Coon Creek Crossing, Dinner Station, Arroya Blanco, Little Coon Creek Crossing, The Caches, Fort Larned, Fort Coon and Fort Dodge.

     You will find that along these three major routes there are shorter routes that connect the main routes together with other places of importance along the trail. In all there are eight seperate routes along this portion of the Santa Fe Trail, in Pawnee, Edwards, and Ford Counties in Kansas. Along these eight routes the trail has been researched and dozens of places where Santa Fe Trail ruts can still be seen in the earth to this day have been located and marked. The goal of this website is the historic interpretation of all eight routes and to pass on the research and historic findings to you the web surfing public.

     The Wet/Dry Routes trail sites have been marked with Limestone Posts placed at each of these locations. These Limestone Post are also a lasting part of our Kansas history. Mounted in the posts are a bronze or brass plaque with a description of the site. Also at several of the sites "Interpretive Markers" have been placed to give the public a better understranding of the area and the site.

     "The Wet/Dry Routes Marking and Mapping Project is complete": Now the "Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites", published by the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter is on the WWW along with an Auto Tour of the area.

     In all over 130+ of these limestone post and Interpretive Markers have been placed on this short section of the Santa Fe Trail.

     This tour of the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter area is by no means all of the sites to be explored, but it is a good starting point for your tour of the Santa Fe Trail.

     The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter produced two separate learning units designed for the elementary grades. Both are written for the fourth grade level but can be easily adapted for various grade levels.

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Larry & Carolyn
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January 21, 1998
Life Member