Santa Fe Trail Oval Sign Story
Pawnee Rock, Kansas

Paul Schmidt photographed doors
Pawnee Rock school in 1952

     [March 10, 2010] Barb Schmidt used her sharp mind and her dad's photos to make a bit of Pawnee Rock history visible. She sent some photos and this e-mail. Following it is a note from Larry Mix of the Santa Fe Trail Research site.

Here's what Barb wrote:
     Recently you posted on a couple photos of Pawnee Rock High School football players my dad (Paul Schmidt) took in fall 1952. The same day dad took those photos, he also took the two photos I am sending you now. One is a scratchy photo of a set of entry doors at the old Pawnee Rock High School building (with dad partially reflected in the window, showing off his best farmer's overalls!).

     The other is a clear photo showing one of the Santa Fe Trail "oval signs," a topic you have covered in the past. For example, in your July 9 and 16 and August 2, 2007, blogs, you reported on the oval sign being bought at an estate sale in Ellinwood and then sold on ebay to a buyer in New Mexico (thanks for posting a photo of the sign in your Gallery 31 -- also, thanks for including a search engine on your huge website!).

     I believe the oval sign my dad photographed in 1952 was mounted on a corner of the old Pawnee Rock High School building. If you look at the 1950s photo above of the old high school taken from your Gallery 77 (sent by Ed Durall) and focus on the corner of the building about a third of the way from the left edge of the photo, it looks like an oval sign is hanging on the bricks. If you look at the oval sign my dad photographed in 1952, the sign is hanging on bricks similar to the bricks in the photo of entry doors to the school building that he took the same day.

     Thanks to your earlier postings, I was led to Larry and Carolyn Mix's Santa Fe Trail Research website for more information on the history of the Santa Fe Trail oval signs and learned:

     "The Oval Santa Fe Trail Markers were placed on or near schools located along the Santa Fe Trail in 1948, by the American Pioneer Trails Association with Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. The Association provided a plaque for every school along the Santa Fe Trail and suggested a dedication program for November 16, 1948. Students were to conduct the ceremony and give the addresses. They were encouraged to dress in pioneer costumes for the occasion."

     I wonder if any of your older readers remember anything more about the oval sign that appears to have hung on the Pawnee Rock High School building?

     Or recall the "dedication program," if there was one? Or dressing up in pioneer costumes?

     Or perhaps someone has a copy of the 1948 Pawnee Rock High School yearbook and could check to see whether it has a photo or other information about the arrival of the oval sign?

     And whatever happened to the Pawnee Rock High School Santa Fe Trail oval sign in later years?

     Maybe there is a clue on the Santa Fe Trail Research website, which reports that "an antique dealer in Pawnee Rock" bought such a sign "at a garage sale in Pawnee Rock," put it in his antique shop and sold it to a buyer/seller from Gem, Kansas, who "then sold it to Ed Dowell, Ulysses, Kansas on November 17, 2002." The "Pawnee Rock sign" was sold again in November 2004 by a auction house in Larned, Kansas to an unidentified buyer in Cedar Crest, New Mexico (slightly east of Albuquerque). Perhaps this sign was the Pawnee Rock High School oval sign?

Larry & Carolyn responded:
     Sure looks like the same building to me that the sign is hanging on. Thanks for think of us and sending us the photos. This is the logical story for the sign that is in your photo. Thanks again for thinking of us and using our site!

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