The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail held its summer meeting in Great Bend, Kansas at the Barton County Museum. There were 25 members in attendance pluse two or three guests. Larry and Carolyn Mix, member from St. John, Kansas arranged for the meeting place. Lois Brichacek, Museum President, welcomed the group. Lois and the museum staff were gracious hosts and invited the chapter to return any time. Carolyn Mix served homemade cookies and Joyce Losey provided ice tea and lemonade for the refreshment break.
Clara Goodrich accompanied herself on the Autoharp and sang several trail songs and led the group in a sing-along for the first part of the program. Program Directory David Clapsaddle gave a briefing on Ash Creek crossing one of the chapter's most well known sites. The physical evidence of the site has been carelessly obliterated but fortunately there is a photograph taken in 1949 by Clay Ward that shows the crossing's bank cutdowns really well. Readers will remember that this crossing is where Susan Magoffin's carriage overturned, spilling her out and landing on top of her, in July 1846 resulting in her miscarrage at Bent's Fort a month later.
Items discussed during the meeting included:
Santa Fe Trail's survey regarding dues collection, the chapter's web page, report by the Faye Anderson award committee, Chuchwagon committee report, Marker committee report, Joint Venture with the Fort Larned Old Guard, donation to FLOG to help acquire the Cheyenne/Siouz village site and the Beecher Island traveling seminar.
In June 2000, members of the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter and the Sons of the Civil War placed a white marble tombstone at Pawnee Rock in Barton County, Kansas to commemorate Nehemiah Carson who died and was buried near the Rock in the summer of 1846. Carson, a member of the 1st Missouri Mounted Infantry was en route to Santa Fe at the beginning of the Mexican war. On August 18, 2000, vandals broke the stone from its base. An ongoing investigation by the Barton County Sheriff's Office is underway. In the meantime, members of the above mentioned organization have repaired and replaced the stone. An attactive railing has been installed to hopefully prevent future damage. If you haven't seen Pvt. Carson's memorial in its attractive setting on the east face of Pawnee Rock, its well worth the short drive to do so.
Attack at Big Timbers Crossing
by Larry E. Mix
Some how or another I got snookered into cleaning the weeds from around our trail markers. I've been out cutting the weeds around all the markers along the roads to make them look a little better and so a person could find them if someone might be out looking for them. It was a fun experience again, to go out and get with nature and the old trail, to sit in the shade of a large tree at a crossing and listen to the creaking of the wagons as they splash through the water. Call me weird or what ever you want but it happens, that's why I stay away from Larned as much as possible.
Well on one of the days I was out doing this I had quite an adventure at the marker at Big Timbers Crossing on the Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road. On this day I had started at Fort Hays and went south cleaning the weeds around the markers and getting GPS Readings as I went along. At Big Timbers Crossing I got out of the pickup, got the weedeater out of the back and went to the side of the road about six inches from the edge of the weeds that lined the ditch to look over the weed situation in the ditch. Before diving in with the weedeater I thought I might have to use a chain saw or something a little larger than the weedeater to cut some of the weeds in that part of the country. While I was standing there and looking at the crossing and wondering just what might have gone on at this location in trail days, I was pulled back to reality. I heard something in the weeds at my feet. No big deal because at other locations along the trail I had seen mice and that is what I figured it was.
Well I don't know how many of you have ever been out in the wilds and heard a buzzzzzzzzzing sound from a rattlesnake, well I have and you will never forget it. It makes the water run down the pant leg and it's not from your water bottle! There I was standing about six inches from the edge of the road and the weeds hearing this buzzing sound that definitely was a rattlesnake. As I stood there not moving I slowly looked all around but couldn't spot him, but I knew that I had upset him and he was letting me know just that. After checking that he wasn't sneaking up behind me I took a quick jump backwards and out on the road behind me. Now I don't know for sure what the olympic record for a standing long jump backwards is, but I am now the gold medal record holder for that event. I knew I should have gone to Australia!!
After surveying the predicament I was in, I took the weed eater and beat the weeds to see if I could make him a little madder or at least let me know just where he was. Well, I didn't scare him one little bit, out he came right on the road with me. Now he was really mad. He got on the road and got into the rattlesnake striking pose and stood his ground. I picked up a hand full of dirt and threw it at him, he stood his ground for a little bit longer, but finally the old man won. He made a retreat down the road and into the weeds about twenty feet away from the marker.
I came back to the marker and listened. I could still hear another one somewhere in the weeds. These guys were interrupting my job, it was hot and I was in no mood to let them stop me. So with my trusty weedeater I beat the weeds in the ditch some more and out came two more, only this time they were heading south right beside the marker and into the pasture and grass beyond. One of these two was about four feet long. I'm glad he wasn't the one to come out on the road, because I may have let them darn weeds grow for a while longer and did that marker some other day. The other two were about two feet long. After I ran them off with dirt, I really beat the weeds and found no more or heard no more. I finally got the weeds cleared and was on my way.
There is a lesson in this little story. It pays to be careful out there as you just never know what you might come across. I broke a rule that everyone should adhere to, that is don't go alone, take a friend. Rattlesnakes aren't the only things to watch for, the list is long, right now buck deer are something to watch out for and keep your distance as you would lose that battle. I've decided that I'm going to wait till it gets colder and these little fellows are cold and asleep, then and only then am I going to get to the markers off the road and in the tall grass.
Another lesson to learn is don't leave home without the camera!!
Larry E. and Carolyn Mix have completed the project of clearing weeds and grass from around all the Chapter's Markers that are along the road or can be seen from the road with ease. They look great, Larry & Carolyn!
by Larry E. Mix
One Sundy morning Larry and Carolyn Mix were heading to Dodge City, Kansas. They were going down the Santa Fe Trail checking GPS readings for the "Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites" book. We were at the Stewart ruts on the Wet Route in Northeast Ford County, Kansas. After taking the GPS reading we pulled up to a cattle guard to turn around on this single lane road to go back out. There before us were pristine "Santa Fe Trail Ruts" highlighted in the morning dew and sunlight. It doesn't get any better than this on the Old Santa Fe Road.
The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter's next meeting will be held at the First Christian Church at 5th and Spruce (just north of Boot Hill) in Dodge City, Kansas. The meetin date is November 19, 2000 at 2:00 pm. The executive committee will meet at noon at a location to be announced later. The program will be a demonstration of Robert's Trunk by Janice Klein plus a tour of some of the trail sites in the area.
The final three interpretive markers have been placed by the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter at (1) Big Coon Creek Crossing; (2) The Caches; and (3) the point north of present Larned, Kansas where the Dry Route splits from the regular course of the Santa Fe Trail. The two year project is now complete with ten such markers in place. The objective of the project is to help the public understand the distinction between the Wet and Dry Routes of the Santa Fe Trail in present Pawnee, Edwards, and Ford County, Kansas.
In addition, another limestone marker has been placed three miles west of Point of Rocks in Ford County to identify the site of the Lower Crossing. This is the location described by Joseph Brown in his field notes related to the 1825/1827 survey of the Santa Fe Trail. Brown's location is at odds with that of many 20th century writers who wrote that the crossing was at the mouth of Mulberry Creek near present Ford, Kansas David Clapsaddle is presently preparing an article about the Lower Crossing. Thanks go to Cecil Johnson and Gary Nelson for their construction and installation of the interpretive markers.
As evidenced by Larry E. Mix's photograph, Wet/Dry Routes Chapter markers are often used for target practice. Whoever shot at the marker at the Plain Camp site near Garfield, Kansas was pretty good with a firearm. Perhaps it was a hunter releasing his frustration at the scarcity of buffalo to kill.
Chuckwagon Committee Chair
One hundred five attendees at Santa Fe Trail's September rendezvous were served a sumptuous roast beef dinner by the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter's Chuckwagon committee. Besides the entree, dinners were served bake patato, green beans, salad, and dessert. Chefs Jack Gardner and Mildon Yeager cooked the food to perfection. Many chapter members volunteered to serve and their efforts are greatly appreciated. An extra special treat was the bread. It was perfectly done and delicious.
Battle of Coon Creek
This article is being put on the research page as it contains a lot of historic information and it may be lost in the newsletters. The article is taken from an interview with James H. Birch, a soldier in Lt. William B. Royalls command.
The article was published in the October, 1907 issue of the Kinsley Graphic.
Dues are always Due to the
Fastest Hand in the West
Chapter dues in the amount of $10.00 per family, are due at the Winter meeting or may be mailed to Alice Clapsaddle, 215 Mann, Larned, Kansas, 67550. Checks should be made out to the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter. Dues and email addresses are welcome.
"Printable Dues Form"
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.