January 14, 2001, Larry E. Mix of St. John, Kansas, was awarded the Faye Anderson Award by the Wet-Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail at the winter meeting, in Kinsley, Kansas. Although the only name that appears on the plaque is Larry E. Mix, I share this with my most prized possession, this being my best friend and wife of Dodge City, Kansas, Carolyn L. (Thomas) Mix. We are going to take this time and web page to tell you a little about our Santa Fe Trail adventure.
This adventure and research of the Santa Fe Trail began when we lived in Edwards County, Kansas in 1965 two miles north of the ghost town of Ardell. History and books became a passion after Larry bought his first book about the Santa Fe Trail for his wife Carolyn. The book was a first edition of "Dodge City The Cowboy Capital" by Robert M. Wright. Larry bought the book because it told first hand, the history that happened where Carolyn was born and lived until we married in 1960 at Dodge City. After getting the book home, between the pages of this book we found a collection of hand drawn maps and hand written notes about the Santa Fe Trail on a microfiche.
The company Larry worked for at the time, Fravel Motor Company, had an old reader that we used to copy these maps to modern day maps. After this was done Larry began searching for the sites that were talked about in the text. The maps proved to be quite accurate, being in the general area anyway. A good friend of Larry's worked for a company that could take this microfiche and make them into hard copy maps, so we let him do just that. He brought them back to us one day and about a month later he passed away. He wouldn't take any pay for doing this for us, he said just take me out to some of the sites. We never did get to go out together and explore the Trail, but we think about him every time we use them. From these maps and notes it was discovered that the Santa Fe Trail crossed the southeast quarter of the property we were renting at the time, less than a half mile from where we were living. This location was just one mile west of Big Coon Creek Crossing five miles west of Kinsley, Kansas.
These maps became the backbone for the research to find and record the historic sites of the Santa Fe Trail as we found them. Since this first book the collection of maps, local, Kansas history and Santa Fe Trail books has grown and keeps growing in 2013.
For many years along with Carolyn we made trips up and down the Trail exploring the many places we read and researched. Any place we went, some time during the trip we would end up at a trail site. This left the two of us to explore on our own. We have made two complete trips from Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico and have been to most of the major sites along the way. We have logged thousands of miles just along the Santa Fe Trail in the State of Kansas. We are planning another complete trip of the Trail in the very near future. Every time we go out along the Trail we find something new.
Along about 1992, we heard about the push to get the Santa Fe Trail off the ground and into the history of the nation where it should be. There were Chapters being formed all along the Trail. We found out from some old friends in Pawnee County, that there was going to be a Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail in Edwards & Pawnee County area of Kansas. We went to the next meeting and joined the Wet-Dry Routes Chapter.
Over the years we've been associated with the Wet-Dry Routes, we've spent countless hours up and down this part of the Santa Fe Trail installing markers, researching, taking pictures, cleaning weeds. We were also major contributing members of the team that researched and compiled the data for the Chapter publication A Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites in 1999. We bought a GPS unit and mapping software for our computer and did all of the GPS mapping for this publication, this page is an off shoot of that project and we got recognition for using the Microsoft Research Maps website in our search for Santa Fe Trail sites.
In 1994, Larry and Carolyn volunteered to transport the displays the Chapter made, to several locations around the central part of Kansas. In the time we were doing this, we traveled over 2,000 miles setting up the displays and answering questions at several locations. At the time there were two displays. One of the displays traces the evolution of transportation on the Santa Fe Trail. It featured commentary and artifacts related to the various beasts of burden used to transport trade goods to and from New Mexico. Included in the display are a pack saddle, harness hames, a stay chain, ox shoes, and American ox yoke, a Mexican ox yoke, and an ox chain. The original traveling display portrayed the fifty-nine markers set along the five separate routes of the Trail between Larned and Dodge City, Kansas. These displays are now housed at the Edwards County Museum in Kinsley, Kansas.
Also in 1994 Larry assisted in helping a young man by the name of Matt Waldren of Troop 238 in Lewis, Kansas to complete an "Eagle Service Award" project. The project was the compilation of a directory of sites marked by the Wet-Dry Routes Chapter in Pawnee, Edwards, and Ford Counties in Kansas. In addition to the name and addresses of the property owners on whose land each marker is placed, the legal description of each site is noted. The directory was placed in the Santa Fe Trail Center, Fort Larned National Historic Site, and the Kansas State Historical Society for future references.
For several years we collected and archived information on the Santa Fe Trail, along with other history about the area we lived in at the time. Over the years there were people that kept telling me to put it into some form, some kind of a filing system so it could be found in a timely manner. From 1964 to about 1994 Larry had collected mountains of information. It was found on everything from a napkin to just a simple piece of paper and photos of all kinds relating to the Trail. Most of the text was photocopied from articles that were found at research centers across the length of the Santa Fe Trail. There is even information on VCR tapes. The video camera was a research tool that we used on trips to where ever we went.
In 1992, a medical condition forced Larry to quit work. Rather than go crazy sitting around doing nothing, Larry thought he would try to keep busy rather than worry about his condition. Larry started to gather and sort the information, putting it on the first used computer he bought in Great Bend, Kansas. This first computer was doing the job, but it wasn't how Larry had envisioned it. This is when Larry decided to get some professional help and took it to our local computer shop and traded this "dinosaur" as Mac Zimmerman called it, for a later model and started the job over with the latest programs. Entering information into the computer was very slow because up until this time Larry hadn't even turned one on. Typing, for me was last done in high school in 1957. There was another little deal to over come, nine fingers! This later computer did the job the way it had been pictured in Larry's mind. The information could be accessed quick and easy, a lot easier than the stacks of papers and books that were in a dozen different places around the house. There were many mistakes and some day I expected my old computer to put up a screen that said; "Make up your dam mind" but it never has, so far anyway. I guess it just puts up with the many changes this old guy can come up with.
Then came a set back after upgrading to a second computer. It was found that transfering information from one computer to the other wouldn't work. If we entered data on our new computer with all the newer programs, the information couldn't be read on an older one with older or different programs. Research into this for someone that knew nothing about this type of stuff was difficult to say the least. After looking and just plain common sense told me that it needed to be put into something that could be read by any computer. HTML is an international language to all browsers that are on all computers. Make it simple and any browser will be able to read it. This was the solution to the problem and this is how it's been done. All the research information has been entered as web-pages on my computer.
In 1993, I decided to put up a website. It started out as a personal site, with information about our grandson that was setting track and field records across the state. He still holds some state records. On the site we put some Santa Fe Trail information about the Wet-Dry Routes Chapter, the first Chapter along the trail to have a website by the way. This first website was on Geocities. The website was left up until January 1, 2001, it hadn't been updated for some time and at that time it was deleted and is no more.
In 1998, St. John, Kansas got its own Internet service provider. At that time the Wet-Dry Routes website was moved to stjohnks.net, only it still was a secondary page on our website. It stayed this way for about a year. When our internet bill came due, we went down and talked to Mac Zimmerman about a name change and new address to put the Santa Fe Trail website on as the number one page. Mac and I put our heads together and decided that the new address would be; "www.stjohnks.net/santafetrail/." The Santa Fe Trail part of the website became the main page. It had been clear from the start that there are a lot of people out there from around the world interested in the Old Santa Fe Road and we are only intrested in getting information to them. This website was averaging about 100 hits per day.
In 1999 Larry & Carolyn's web site was selected as one of the Net's finest and informative. It is included in StudyWebTM's listing of educational links.
"StudyWeb is one of the Internet's premier sites for educational resources for students and teachers. Since 1996, our expert reviewers have scoured the Internet to select only the finest sites to be included in StudyWebTM's listing of educational links. Inclusion in StudyWebTM will increase your exposure and attract new visitors to your site: our reviews have been featured on Webcrawler Select, The Lycos Top 5%, Education World and many others, and StudyWebTM updates are provided to media and educational resources around the world."
Of course, we already knew this because at the time it was being used by several schools around the world as a study site for History of Westward Expansion. The most visitors to the site are in this order; #1 is .com, #2 is .net, #3 is .us and #4 is .edu, which is US Educational. This is a fact that we are the most proud of. The fact that we just might be a small part of shaping a young person into being the next true Santa Fe Trail Historian like Mac Simmons or Leo & Bonita Oliva Wagon Tracks Editor & book author. How about an in-depth researcher for a project like the Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites! These young people are the future of the Santa Fe Trail!
Along about this time Leo & Bonita Oliva gave us permission to put on our web site the Index to Wagon Tracks Volume 1 to 10, 1986/1996. This is one of the best research tools for the Santa Fe Trail there is and a lot of people do use it. We've tried for years to get the Historic content of the Wagon Tracks Quarterly on our site so the Index can really be used to its fullest, it hasn't happened as of yet anyway and doubt it ever will. Most of the questions we receive from the Wagon Tracks Index are given information on ordering and directed to the Last Chance Store for back issues of Wagon Tracks.
September of 1999 the Santa Fe Trail Symposium was held at Council Grove, Kansas, Larry E. Mix was given the "Award of Merit" for our significant contribution to the Preservation, Protection and Promotion of the Santa Fe Trail and developing and maintaining the Santa Fe Trail Research website.
Something we had been looking for came true for Larry & Carolyn. We've always wanted one of the Oval Santa Fe Trail signs and now we have one. With only about 100 of these signs put on schools along the Santa Fe Trail in 1948, never in our life time did we think we would even find one, let alone to buy it and have this sign in our collection of Santa Fe Trail items. Now we have six! No they are not for sale. They are being preserved in our collection for the future to enjoy. Some day they will be given to a museum or historic site along the trail that don't have one.
May-June of 2000, the sign above was dropped into our lives with an email requesting information on oval signs. Which we answered with all the information we had on the signs. Then along came this email several months later.
Subject: In a rut.
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 12:42:56 -0400 (EDT)
Would you be interested in purchasing my oval marker? E-mail me with a bid. E-mails will be answered. For a photo, send a self addressed stamped envelope to. Sue, New Jersey. I will try to post a picture on the Internet.
We were the high bidder and our sign was delivered on June 10, 2000.
Some people along the trail don't understand the scope of what to preserve, any historic item no matter what it is, be it a trail rut or a sign, should be in the hands of someone that enjoys it, and will keep and protect that piece of history safe. Most of the Oval Signs we have on our site have stories about being found in the trash, or buried somewhere. Plowing a trail rut, trail crossing, under for a few acres of ground, that is total destruction of that historic item. A prime example of preservation is the story of the Frizzle Family and their ownership of the Fort Larned National Historic Site. The page we have on Santa Fe Trail Oval Signs, we believe is the most up to date page there is out their on location and history of them.
August of 2000 our website took on another new look and name, same address. It became the "Santa Fe Trail Research Site" The Great Highway of Commerce. This was in preparation for the addition of four new web-sites to join the Wet-Dry Routes Chapter, the first Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail to have a website on the Internet on January 28, 1998. The Quivira Chapter came on line February 15, 2001, Fort Dodge/Dodge City Chapter on March 1, 2001, Wagon Bed Spring Chapter on May 1, 2001, Missouri River Outfitters Chapter on September 1, 2002, Flint Hills Chapter on March 25, 2003. On April 14, 2004 the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter joined our plan to have all chapters along the Santa Fe Trail have a web sites for information on their area. At one time we had seven of the twelve Chapters of the Santa Fe Trail on the St. John Kansas Server. Our only goal was to further promote these sections of the Santa Fe Trail with new research material from the people who know the area, the people who live within these sections of the Trail.
January 2003, Microsoft took notice of how our site was using their photos and links to their Microsoft Research Maps site. "This is a really fascinating story about how a retired mechanic figured out how he could find missing sections of the historic Santa Fe Trail using the Microsoft Research Maps, a satellite imaging system developed by Microsoft Research. Some of the wagon trail ruts are still visible from space but hard to find at ground level." John Spilker of Microsoft Research Dot Com stated: "I had the pleasure of taking with Larry Mix last year several times. He has devoted an incredible amount of his life to researching the trail and loves to share his research with Trail Buffs, grade schools, high schools and college students. After he discovered the Web would enable him to publish to a very broad audience, he learned HTML on his own and built a Santa Fe Trail Web site. On top of this, he doesn't even like computers. There's a lot of really bright people at Microsoft Research, but I doubt anyone there could have made the discovery that Larry did." And here's a great piece of advice from Larry: "My wife and I are planning another trip along the complete length of the trail in the very near future. I hope that we'll see you in a rut along the way. Don't forget to bring your laptop, and now Smart Phone" said Mix.
Some Santa Fe Trail sites & Ruts can be only seen with the USGS aerial photos as there are no roads to get to the sites or they are on private property. The later part of February of 2004, Research at Microsoft Dot Com did a feature article on how the Santa Fe Trail Research Site used the tool "Microsoft Research Maps" to explain and see the Santa Fe Trail. We also got a link from another article Microsoft did on how Microsoft Research Maps was put together and how it works. It's just nice to be noticed by the most successful business in the world. "Microsoft"! Larry & Carolyn of the Santa Fe Trail Research Site, "Thank you!" for this honor."
January 10, 2004, another dream came through. The Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites, researched, published and written by a charter member of the Wet-Dry Routes Chapter, David Clapsaddle, his and the chapters work was added to our site. This doubled the size of our site on the Internet. A Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites and Auto Tour are included in this major research and marking project. The Wet-Dry Routes Chapter has always been the leading force along the Santa Fe Trail with all their on going projects of interpretation and marking of the Old Santa Fe Road. This project is the most researched and complete survey of any section of the Santa Fe Trail today. It covers from Pawnee Rock to Cimarron, Kansas, and from Fort Hays to Fort Dodge, on the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road.
The day we got this project on the World Wide Web, I sat there and was wondering just "why" this would be good to put on the Internet other then some real good Santa Fe Trail information. Then I got to thinking about the day you could take a laptop, or one of those smart phones or any other device to use our site while you were walking in a trail rut. That day is here and now! As of Friday, February 26, 2010 we have been working real hard to convert our site so it can be viewed on the internet and also your Smart Phone! We hope to have it finished in a two weeks. We've found in doing this conversion that not all of our pages can be viewed at the right level because of the size of the content. You will have no trouble with most of the pages. The trouble is, the view is some times really small & will have to be enlarged on the phone, this will make you move the page from side to side, this is the only problem we've found with the hundred or so that have been done so far. Over the past six months there have been quite a few coming to our site with their new phones. We hope you enjoy this improvement to our site as we are the only and first Santa Fe Trail site that can be viewed on a Smart Phone. Then I thought, here we are again, the Wet-Dry Routes Chapter waiting for the rest of the Santa Fe Trail to catch up!
January 28, 2004 the Great Bend Tribune did an article about the placing of the Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites Book on the Santa Fe Trail Research Site of St. John, Kansas. The Larned Tiller and Toiler did a front page article on our site and the Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites book. The Dodge City Daily Globe put a link to the Santa Fe Trail Research Site in their Adventures Magazine 2004 edition, to help tourists who come to the area tour southwest Kansas and the Santa Fe Trail.
January 2013, our "Santa Fe Trail Research Site" has over 1200+ pages of information and hundreds of pictures. There are USGS photos for over 850+ Santa Fe Trail sites along it's length. There is several hundred articles that are trail related and more on the way. More and more present day & historic photos are being added all the time. New information may be found and added. A book list is on the site, books may be added by the trail buffs who visit.
April 1, 2003, the Santa Fe Trail Research Site became the Official Santa Fe Trail website at their board meeting at Trinidad, Colorado. On September 1, 2003 we gave that job up going back to just providing Santa Fe Trail information to the world.
May 3, 2003 at the annual meeting of the Fort Larned Old Guard we became the Official Fort Larned Old Guard website. We have posted on our site all the Old Guards Newsletters, "Outpost" that we have in our files. There are some missing and would like to fill those blank spots. If you should happen to have any of the missing newsletters please let up know or mail copies of them to us. Outpost has some of the best historic information to be found on the net today about Fort Larned, Kansas. We are very honored to have this bestowed upon us and our site!
May 6, 2006, the Commanding Officer of the Fort Larned Old Guard, bestowed on us the rank of Lieutenant for our service to the Fort Larned Old Guard. We wish to thank the Old Guard for this honor! In the year of 2009 we became what the Fort Larned Old Guard calls a "Career Officer" with our Life Membership in the Old Guard. This is a great way to help preserve one of our National Treasures we have right here in our backyard and the State of Kansas.
1998 we brought the Santa Fe Trail Center in Larned, Kansas, to the internet. They are the National Headquarters for the Santa Fe Trail and the Official Santa Fe Trail History Museum in the State of Kansas. We created a complete new site with pictures for the museum, but after they changed ISP we were no longer able to update the site, the new company wouldn't let us in.
November of 2000, we put up a site for Keith Chadd of Dodge City, Kansas. This site was all about Historic Maps of Ford, Edwards and Kiowa Counties in Kansas. Keith had researched the historic information about these counties and marked them on maps. The link above is to an article that has one of his paintings. Keith passed away in 2008, but his memory lives on. Joyce, his wife passed away in 2011. Guess Keith took his map site with him as it is not on the internet anymore.
Kansas Historical Quarterly 1931 to 1977
September of 2001 Carolyn & Larry took on another project. This one was to help the Kansas State Historical Society transcribe the Kansas Historical Quarterlies and put them on the net for all to enjoy.
We'd be happy to have you join this remarkable group of volunteers putting the Quarterlies on their website so all can read about the Rich History of the State of Kansas
You can help! Like all our projects, this is purely a volunteer effort. They need many people to help scan or type these articles into electronic files for presentation on the Internet. Participating is easy, all you need to do is check it out with the link to their site above!
January 10, 2008 a major change took place on the Santa Fe Trail Research Site. We got our own domain name, Santa Fe Trail Research Dot Com. We also changed the name of our site to Santa Fe Trail Research. The main reason for this is because of the number of schools that come to our site just for research and teaching of the history of the Santa Fe Trail. The school year of 2008-2009 our site had more then 3,500+ different schools used our site for the study of history. So "Thanks" to all the teachers who direct the young folks to our site. We do hope you find what you are looking for, if not please ask and we will be more than happy to help you find an answer to your question.
Our new "dot com" site came with a new counter, it gives us a lot more information then we've had in the past. Coming in at number 4 is still ".edu" which shows us that a school came to our site. In March of 2012 the stats for our site reads like this: hits per hour average of 177 to a high 3,059, hits per day average, 4,266 to a high of 7,142, the total that month was, 132,260. The total hits for the year of 2012 was 1,254,759. That's an increase over 2011 of 107,471. Our total hits for 2013 were 1,607,225, giving an increase of 352,466.
Well, thats just about all we can tell you about our Santa Fe Trail adventure. We do hope you enjoy our website and visit often. Check back every once in a while, we are always adding new articles or additions to old ones. There are to many people to thank for allowing us to put their material on our site. To all of them from all "Trail Buffs" a great big "Thank You!" If there is something you like, let us know, and that goes for something you don't like also. We get a lot of feedback about spelling. There may be spelling mistakes, but a lot of the information is written just as it appears in the resource we are using so it is historically correct. We enjoy hearing from everyone!! The website is yours, we are just the "Keepers and Webmasters" of it.
So enjoy and as Larry & Carolyn always say: "History Isn't History Until It's Written Down!"
"The Post Rock Craftsman"
"The Fort Larned Blacksmith"
|Ray J. Schulz
Barton County Historian
Teacher & Historian
|Willis Benjamin Warner II
Proprietor of "Warner Ruts"
Proprietor of "Ralph's Ruts"
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.