This research project started in 1989 when the Chapter began to mark the Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road at ten locations along it's route. Now the Chapter has added a Auto Tour Guide to be used if you wish to visit the 125+ sites the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter has marked. More historic sites will be added as they are marked. Enjoy!
This is an autotour that was used at the Six Western Chapter Meeting on June 1-2, 2002. This tour takes you from Fort Aubrey on the north to Point of Rocks on the south with many Santa Fe Trail sites in between. Enjoy!
Aerial photo links for most of the major sites and trail ruts on the Santa Fe Trail, from Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This is an attempt to trace Boyd's steps from the place of his birth in Vermont to his boyhood home in Illinois; from his dramatic, if brief, military career to his days as a wagon master; from his life at the ranch to business ventures in Dodge City, Kansas; from his return to Larned to his subsequent and final days in Kansas City, Missouri. The chronology of these 70 years (1841-1911) is presented in four short chapters: The War and the West; The Ranch; The Hotel; The Aftermath.
In the summer of 1855 two hardy, experienced plainsmen, William Allison and Francis Boothe, ventured to establish a Santa Fe Trail trading post at Walnut Creek Crossing, on the great bend of the Arkansas. The site was in the heart of the buffalo range, and 132 miles beyond the frontier settlement of Council Grove.
Ash Creek, an insignificant little stream, finds its headwaters in north central Pawnee County, Kansas, and flows southeast a brief 25 miles to the Arkansas River.
Northwest of Larned, one mile east of Ash Valley is a six foot concrete monument. Encased in the monument is a sandstone inscribed as follows:
In the summer of 1806, Gen. James Wilkinson dispatched Lt. Zebulon Pike to conduct an exploratory expedition of the Southwest. Wilkinson did so without consulting the president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Here the intrigue begins.
Agnes City, Kansas, by 1881 enough people had homesteaded to feel the need of better organized schools. Springdale was located a great distance from some of the pupils so the Agnes City School District was organized.
On the Santa Fe Trail, one of the most referred to and researched crossing is the Crossing of the Arkansas to the Cimarron Route or Cutoff. Numerous writers mentioned these crossings and routes in diaries and mileage charts. Many give the distance from known point on the Trail, most are not just vague references such as a day's journey.
It was six miles south of the Arkansas River in this pass called Bear Creek Pass, that a trader by the name of Charles Bent was attacked by Indians.
On June 5, 1848 lst Lt. William B Royall was put in charge of two government trains totaling about sixty wagons and led by Burnham and Fulton as wagonmasters, along with four hundred plus head of government livestock. This was just the beginning of this story of a battle with the Indians.
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. This article was in the Autumn 2000, Vol 7 No 4. 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.
George and Robert Bent, younger brothers of Charles and William, set forth from Taos in the summer of 1832 and traveled north over Raton Pass. This itinerary was the precursor to what became known as the Bent's Fort Road.
"A little way from the road saw a large basin of water enclosed with sand rocks. In it saw a number of fish - on the rock were a number of names cut out. I left the innitials of my name on one of them, as an emigrant to the far west"
Samuel D. Raymond, 1859.
With the 1848 discovery of gold in California, thousands of argonauts raced westward to seek their fortune. Among these many gold seekers was a group of Cherokees and whites from Washington County, Arkansas.
As the Santa Fe Trail left the well-watered, wooded valley of the Missouri River, it entered the mixed prairie grass region of that was to become Kansas. The change in terrain was rather abrupt.
Mileage chart for the BOD, just never got around to using it to much. I always thought that this trail would be intresting to explore a little, but it is quite a ways from where I live and the Santa Fe Trail is almost in my backyard. Hope someone get some use out of it!!
In 1846 a woman traveler, Mrs Susan Shelby Magoffin, wrote in her diary, "the Caches are large holes dug in the ground some what the shape of a jug. They are situated about a quarter of a mile from the river, on the rather elevated piece of ground, and with in a hundred yards of the road which runs at present between their and the river."
The Canton Ferry is the longest continually operating ferry on the Mississippi having been in service since 1844. The ferry operates south of Lock and Dam #20 between the landing on the Canton Riverfront in Lewis County, Missouri to the landing at Meyer, in Adams County, Illinois. The ferry carries all size vehicles from bicycles to semi trucks. The current ferry was put into operation in 1994.
The Canton Port Authority announced 4-16-2014,.the Canton Ferry had permanently shut down. The ferry had been shut down for repairs to the hull of the barge, but further inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard showed the cost would be too great for repair.
In the spring of 1867 it was the home of hundreds of Cheyennes and Sioux---over 250 tipis scattered along a branch of the Pawnee Fork northwest of Fort Larned, Kansas. Then, in a tragic miscalculation, it became the focal point of "Hancock's War."
On his first and fabled trip to Santa Fe, William Becknell set forth from Franklin, Missouri, on September 1, 1821, with five companions and a string of pack horses laden with trade goods. Reaching Fort Osage, the party pressed on through Missouri and into Indian Territory, arriving at a point on the Arkansas River somewhere east of Walnut Creek. There Becknell's men forded the river and proceeded upstream to present Colorado where they came to "the forks . . . and took the left hand one (the Purgatoire River)" southwest.
Twin brothers Leslie and Wesley Cobb have from an abandoned stone quarry, grown dense with trees, soap weeds and plum bushes, Leslie and Wesley Cobb, have made two beautiful homesites which are often mistaken for a park.
Cold Springs Creek is an area of live water located in the panhandle of Oklahoma. This made it an important stopping place for anyone passing through the area, including travelers on the Cimarron Cutoff Route of the Santa Fe Trail.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike was a natural dupe-earnest, ambitious, dutiful, and naive. As a result, his commanding officer, James Wilkinson, top-ranking general of the United States Army and governor of newly acquired Louisiana Territory, found him a most useful tool.
From its headwaters in Ford County, Kansas, Coon Creek pursues a convoluted course to the northeast paralleling the north bank of the Arkansas River through Edwards and Pawnee counties before finding its confluence with the Arkansas River near the little town of Garfield.
DAR Marker locations in the State of Missouri
This is a chart of the Daughters of the American Revolution Survey of the markers placed in the years of 1906/1908 in the State of Kansas.
Daughters of the American Revolution Survey of the markers in the year of 1915 in the State of Kansas.
When the marking of the Santa Fe Trail was first suggested to the Daughters in Kansas at the State Conference in Ottawa, in 1902, no one had any idea of the great undertaking they were about to under take.
Daughters of the American Revolution Marker location in the State of Kansas by Counties, Number, How many are in each county, location and a little history on each one.
DAR Marker locations in the State of Colorado
DAR Marker locations in the State of New Mexico
The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter set up this auto tour of the DAR Markers in Pawnee County, Kansas.
Diamond Spring, located sixteen miles southwest of Council Grove in present day Morris County, Kansas, was a favorite stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The spring was first named Jones Spring by George Sibley during the 1825 survey of the Santa Fe Trail in honor of Ben Jones who discovered the welcome source of water.
Biographical information with regard to Curtis is scant. His name first appears in connection with trading activities on the North Platte in 1847.
The "Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites" has been updated and added to with maps, site photos, areial photo's, GPS readings, driving instructions and other historic data researched and collected by the history buffs who make up the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail in Central Kansas. This research project started in 1989 when the Chapter began to mark the Fort Hays/Fort Dodge Road at ten locations along it's route. Now the Chapter is adding an Auto Tour Guide to be used if you wish to visit the 125+ sites the Chapter has marked. More historic sites will be added as they are marked. This major study of the Santa Fe Trail can now be viewed on the WWW through the link above.
"By the way, there is a road across the upland known as the 'Dry Road.' It is even shorter than the road down the river which has been called the 'Water Road,' but the 'Dry Road' is always avoided by the oxen caravans, and usually by the mule caravans, too, because of the lack of water."
H. B. Mollhausen, 1858
Duncan's Crossing; it's not a place that immediately leaps to the forefront of the mind when one thinks of the historic past of Kansas. But, it does have its place in our history, and a group of Kansans want to bring it back to the prominence it once occupied.
On July 17, 1864 the Cheyennes along with the Kiowas and Comanches struck Fort Larned and continued their attacks toward the east. It was into this dangerous situation that a young man named Ed Miller rode on an errand of mercy to help a sick woman in Marion. His courage in the face of the Indian threat was to cost him his life.
During the year 1870, the government found they needed army men out in the forts of the western plains to combat Indians who were making raids on the wagon trains as they were hauling supplies along the route to Santa Fe. To fill a specific need at the time, the government drew ten names from the list of regulars. Edward Shane's name was among the ten. These ten men were to be sent to Fort Dodge in western Kansas.
Most maps of the Santa Fe Trail depict the trade route as a single artery running from Missouri southwest to New Mexico. Such cartography belies the many variants of what Thomas Hart Benton called a highway between nations.
In 1819 the steamboat Independence arrived at the tiny town of Franklin, perched precariously on the north bank of the muddy Missouri River, 200 miles upstream from St. Louis.
Ezekiel Williams (or Zeke as he was known) had exploration and adventure coursing through his veins as surely as the rich Welsh blood with which he was born. His forebears came to this nation many years before it was a nation. The frontier was where Ezekiel was raised.
Fort Atkinson was the first regular army post on the Santa Fe Trail in the heart of Indian Country. At the time of its beginning there were forts at both ends of the trail, Fort Leavenworth (1827) on the Missouri River and Fort Marcy (1846) at Santa Fe New Mexico
This study by E. P. Burr of The Santa Fe Trail, Francois Xavier Aubry, The Aubry Trail and Fort Aubry originated as a master's theses in 1971 under the direction of Professor W. W. Butcher in the Division of Social Sciences, Emporia Kansas State College.
We've been allowed to use this study by the author, and our thanks goes to Mr. Burr.
On the Big Coon Creek west of Kinsley, Kansas was a place where the Dry Routes of the Santa Fe Trail crossed the creek. At this location once stood the small outpost called Fort Coon.
The origin of Fort Dodge, now the Kansas Soldiers Home on Highway 400, just east of Dodge City, Kansas dates back to 1847, when Fort Mann was established at the Cimarron Crossing on the Santa Fe Trail a few miles west of the present Fort Dodge.
From the year of 1744, when the French established Fort de Cavagnial on the bluffs of the Missouri River. Kansas has been the home to numerous military forts or posts. This article will cover two of them, Fort Ellsworth, 1864/66, and Fort Harker, 1866/72.
On June 1, 1996 and running through the 16th of June, 1996 the Kansas Archeology Training Program Field School began there annual dig at a place that once was called Fort Ellsworth in Ellsworth, County.
In June3-18, 2000 the Kansas Archeology Training Program Field School began there annual dig at a place that once was called Fort Ellsworth in Ellsworth, County. This is a short report of the artifacts that were found at the 2000 dig.
These are photos of the June 3-18, 2000 dig held at 14EW26 Locality 5, sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District: The Kansas State Historial Socicty: and the Kansas Anthropological Association.
To protect the stage and express lines and the pioneer settlers the United States government ordered the establishment of several military posts along the trails leading to the west. One of these fort was in the vicinity of Big Creek and the Smoky Hill river.
General Orders No. 22 issured on November 17, 1866, by General Winfield S. Hancock, commander of the Division of the Missouri, directed the Name of Fort Ellsworth be changed to Fort Harker, in honor of General Charles Garrison Harker.
The Fort Larned Old Guard was formed to provide support for Fort Larned National Historic Site beyond that given by the federal government. It will augment living history and other programs at the Fort; raise funds for the purchase of special equipment; promote the history, resources and interpretation of the site and generally take that extra step which is not possible under existing appropriations. The Old Guards Newsletter, Outpost has a wealth of Historic information in them.
Members of the Fort Larned Old Guard will receive the official quarterly publication OUTPOST. We have an archive of the newsletters on site. These newsletters have a wealth of information and communication between the famous forts of Kansas for the years of 1867, 1868, 1869. This information is put together by several Fort Larned Old Guard members.
In the heart of the vast rolling prairie of Kansas, near Pawnee Fork, is located the best preserved 1860s to 1870s military post on the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Larned National Historic Site. Today the nine original sandstone structures have been restored on the exterior to their appearance in 1868. The reconstructed blockhouse and Flag staff help complete the feeling that you have stepped back into time
Today a person can easily see the sharp contrast between this pasture land and the surrounding area. Here the native sod lies untouched by the hand of man, whereas the nearby fields have been tilled, terraced, and planted and the normal plains environment has been almost completely obliterated.
The soldiers who died and were buried at Fort Larned are now relocated in graves marked "Unknown Soldier" at the National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Their graves are in Section B, graves 2136 to 2200. After 121 years of resting in peace, 62 frontier soldiers who died on the Kansas plains got their identity back.
You may visit some of the sites of these lost structures and learn more of what went on here by following the walking trail which begins just east of the post hospital building. A copy of this tour may be picked up at the Visitor Center at Fort Larned National Historic Site.
The Fort Larned National Historic Site initiated the "Traveling Trunks" project in September, 2009. Originally designed for fourth grade classes, the project at the request of administrators and teachers has been expended to other grade levels.
The five National Historic Sites in Kansas have recently initiated an enterprising project. Each of the Historic sites will join forces with a local school and quilting guild to produce a quilt emblematic of the Site's mission.
After due consideration, Army officials determined that a fort on the Arkansas River was impractical. A site nearer the starting point of the Santa Fe Trail, however, was feasible. As a result, the Adjutant General's Office issued Ordered Number 14, dated March 7, 1827, to chose a place for a fort.
Two heavy gates a foot thick swung at the entrance on wooden hinges and loopholes were cut for small arms in the connecting walls between the building.
The Topeka Capital of January 20th, contained an interview with Colonel Alexander Majors, the pioneer plains man, who did an immense freighting business across the plains 40 and 50 years ago. In the interview there is a dispute about the location of Fort Mann, Kansas on the Arkansas river.
Fort Osage was the point from which distances on the Santa Fe Trail were measured by the Federal Survey in 1825. The official U.S. government survey of the Santa Fe Trail in 1825-27, which was headed by Sibley, began 1.75 miles south of Fort Osage, where the Osage Trace crossed the eastern boundary of Indian lands as defined by the 1808 treaty.
Camp Supply was established in November 1868 by order of General Philip H. Sheridan. The post, originally the supply base for the Winter Campaign of 1868-1869, was redesignated Fort Supply in December 1878 and remained an active military post until the fall of 1894.
What began as a small outpost in 1851 near the Santa Fe Trail, during a major economy move in the nation's history, was briefly the central point of supply for several military posts spread over a vast territory. Its garrison participated in a few Indian campaigns in the 1850s, helping to make the region safer for travelers and settlers.
Although General Sherman did not officially authorize the construction of Fort Wallace, Kansas until October 26, 1865, a detachment of troops made camp at the bluffs of the south fork of the Smoky Hill river and Pond creek in September, 1865.
This artist's conception of the last Fort Zarah, Kansas is believed slightly incorrect. If the shadows are correct, then this would be a view from the northeast looking towards the fort and Walnut Creek in the background. The building had only one window, in the east end. The two towers were located on the southeast and northwest corners and were two stories high.
On November 12, 1868, Colonel George A Custer of the Seventh Cavalry, left his camp six miles east of Dodge City on the Arkansas River, marching five miles south to Mulberry Creek, where he joined General Alfred Sully and the infantry with the supply train.
The column forded the Arkansas at Fort Dodge and headed straight for Fort Hays. Two years before when the Eighteenth Kansas marched up and down, to and fro, in this part of the country, it was a trackless waste between two forts. Now the column marched all the way over a smooth, well traveled wagon road.
Sgt. James Albert Hadley
Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry
The biography of cattleman I. P. Olive, The Ladder of Rivers, was titled as an allusion to the many streams crossed by the Texas cattle trail during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The same device could well be employed to interpret the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road by way of the several waterways that bisected its seventy-five-mile length. If the ladder analogy is thus used, the top rung would be Big Creek.
On May 15, 1829, four companies of the Sixth U.S. Infantry under the command of Bvt. Maj. Bennet Riley were greeted by a 15-gun salute as they disembarked from the steamboat Diana at Cantonment Leavenworth. While other officers were deployed to procure provisions and draft animals for the expedition, 2nd Lt. Robert Seiver was ordered to reconnoiter two routes from the cantonment to Round Grove, the well known campground on the Santa Fe Trail at which Riley's command was to rendezvous with the traders assembling at Independence.
The mule trains left Riley the tenth of September, 1862, each traveling independently, with instructions to camp on the Smoky at Salina, then a mere station, until I came up. There was a plain road, but little traveled, and this the first government train of any importance to pass over it. Such was the origin of what H. L. Jones, deputy U.S. marshal at Salina in 1864, called the Fort Riley and Fort Larned Road.
Having no official name, the road to Fort Lyon was known by several designations. Captain W. H. Penrose, Commanding Officer at Fort Lyon, referred to the road as the "stage route to Cheyenne Wells." Luke Cahill, a stage company employee and former first sergeant in the Fifth Infantry at Fort Lyon, called the road "the trail between Lyon and Wallace." At a later date, the road was commonly known as "The Fort Wallace/Fort Lyon Road"
The odyssey began with the existence of war between the United States and Mexico as announced by President James K. Polk on May 13, 1846.
About ninety miles west of Council Grove, Kansas or about six days of travel by wagon train, less than a mile west of what is now the Rice/McPherson County line, the Santa Fe Trail crossed the Little Arkansas River.
For over a century historians have speculated about the circumstances surrounding William Becknell's journey across the plains in 1821, including such issues as where he was heading and the route he followed into New Mexico. Almost exclusively they have relied on Becknell's own account of his trek.
The Gallego Diary appears to demonstrate that, indeed, Mr. Becknell was making a beeline for New Mexico's capital, using a well worn Spanish trail that he'd picked up somewhere below the Raton Mountains.
On June 9, 1848, Capt. George W. Hook and one hundred and forty three recruits left Fort Leavenworth bound for Santa Fe. With them was a fifty three wagon government train carrying supplies and specie to pay the troops in New Mexico.
It's possible that Larry Carr didn't know what he had when he bought this 400 pound sandstone marker at an auction he conducted in Ellsworth. What he did know was that it had the name "Henry Booth" on it the man who built his house just outside of Larned, Kansas.
"We stopped at Hohneck's ranche, our quondam friend, for dinner, who had already prepared, in the delightful anticipation of our visit, an elegant and plentiful repast, consisting of bona fide buffalo, deer meat, smoked ham and quinces. We enjoyed it amazingly, and therefore suggest to the belated travelers that they always stop at Hohneck's ranche when they come this way.
Major General Winfield Scott Hancock
In this single charge of the Cheyennes, thirteen were killed and twenty three wounded, evincing a coolness and deliberation on the part of the Pawnees, not excelled by the best organized troops.
At first the Indians didn't pay much attention to the small parties of Santa Fe traders crossing their domains on the Santa Fe Trail unless they chanced upon a party with horses or mules, and without adequate means of defense.
"The Indians are coming! The Indians are coming!" cried Tina Trexler that October day in 1878, as she rode her pony at breakneck speed from the hills north of Vincent, Kansas into the valley to warn her relatives and neighbors that the dreaded Red Skin would soon be upon them.
These quotations were gathered for the interpretive markers placed on the Santa Fe Trail by the Wer/Dry Routes Chapter. With their indepth research of the Santa Fe Trail, the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter felt some sites and trails needed more information. Click on the links for more information about the site.
KanColl, in partnership with the Kansas State Historical Society, is bringing the issues of the Kansas Historical Quarterly to the World Wide Web. The Society began publishing this amazing collection of articles, studies, and reminiscenses. This list contains articles about the Santa Fe Trail and places that have a connection to this Historic Trail.
Tucked away in the southwest corner of Barton County, Kansas is a Dakota sandstone formation known as Pawnee Rock, perhaps the state's most prominent Santa Fe Trail landmark.
The Kansas Pacific Railway pushed westward out of Kansas in 1869, extending its tracks into Colorado Territory where the fledgling town of Kit Carson was in its first stage of development.
From the early 1820s until the Civil War, Lexington, located in western Missouri, was involved in almost every aspect of the Santa Fe trade. While written references, early roads, and memorials exist in some abundance, documented sites and artifacts are rare and scattered.
Since the Santa Fe Trail split in the middle of Lexington, the following auto tour will note divergences while trying to take you through the town on the main route. Recognizing that traffic on the Trail went both ways, we will start our tour at the city limits sign on Highway 224 east of Lexington.
For those of you that don't know, a lime Kiln is just a big hole in the ground. Before the erosion took over, these were well formed almost like a hand-dug well. The hole is, probably about five feet across and 12 feet deep, were dug down into a creek bank or slough. Then at the bottom, a second hole was dug at an angle to the main structure to allow access to the bottom, so that air could penetrate and to make a draft so that the fire would more easily burn.
In April of 1872, Booth, one of the original members of the Larned Town Company and post trader at Fort Larned, Kansas positioned wheels under one of the sutler's buildings at the fort and transported it to a location near Schnack Park in present-day Larned, Kansas.
Lost Spring, located seven miles west of Six Mile Station, was so named for its lack of water during certain periods of the year. It was a well known location on the Santa Fe Trail. The Kaws called the spring Nee-nee-oke-pi-yah and the Mexicans referred to it as Augua Perdida, both terms meaning lost water.
On June 7, 1847 at Fort Leavenworth, Lieutenant John Love and Company B which was made up of about eighty men, new recruits that were from Eastern Missouri, got orders to escort a paymaster to Santa Fe to pay the troops in New Mexico.
Contrary to what the headline might indicate, this is not a "romance" novel. Rather, it's a lesson in group dynamics and also lends credence to that old saw that "it's an ill wind that doesn't blow somebody some good". You'll see what I mean as we go along. This article was in the Traces Newsletter 2000, Vol 7 No 2 & Vol 7 No 3.
The idea of marking a highway began in Missouri about 1909 when a group of women formed a committee to locate the Old Santa Fe Trail in Missouri. This committee was influential in securing an appropriation from the state of Missouri to mark the trail with suitable boulders or monuments.
In August 1859, the Post Office Department directed that the mail service on the Independence/Santa Fe Line be speeded up from a 20 to a 15 day maximum, a change that was in operation by August 22. From Jacob Hall's point of view, the faster schedule made a mail station at Pawnee Fork imperative.
Here are several maps of the Santa Fe Trail. One is rather large but a good map by the National Parks Service, the others are just your run of the mill maps of the Trail.
A few weeks prior to Zebulon M. Pike's expedition to the Southwest in 1806, Spanish Lieutenant Facundo Melgares led some 600 troops from New Mexico into Kansas.
The Middle Springs of the Cimarron River provided one of the vital watering holes along the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail. The Cimarron Route was the only wagon road to New Mexico during the first two decades of the commercial use of the Trail, and it carried a large part of the freight and traffic until the Civil War. Even after the Mountain Route via Bent's Fort was opened, the old route along the Cimarron River remained popular because of its shorter distance and freedom from rough and mountain's of Raton Pass in Colorado. In most years, however, there was less Indian resistance along the Mountain Route.
Over the years I have collected several Santa Fe Trail Mileage Charts and have posted them on this page to maybe help in the research of the trail. These charts could be used in finding that hidden rut, campsite, or just checking on a certain site, I hope that they will do someone some good!
William Becknell, who was broke and needed to make some money, left Old Franklin in 1821 with pack horses and five companions and headed southwest. He was lucky; when he crossed the Arkansas, he was not arrested. Mexico had just won its independence from Spain and welcomed trade.
This article describes the development of the Santa Fe Trail in Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas. Included is information concerning the geographical and political influences on the trail as well as key events in the area's history.
There is a certain prominent hill in northeast Ford County. It rises gradual and sublimely from surrounding vastness. A view from its summit is rare when considering distance. The reason for its name, however, lies in another of the hill's uses. Tradition says it was used as a mule supply point for the trail. From fifty to one hundred mules were kept pastured near the hill and were herded into a strongly built stockade on top of the hill.
A part of my half mile of the Santa Fe Trail happens to be one of the best examples of the Trail still in existence. There is a two and one-fourth mile strip of very sandy soil in western Rice County. Hathaway Homestead lies at the eastern edge of that sandy strip.
It has long been known that Council Grove's West Main Street was platted along the actual route of the Santa Fe Trail, but with the passage of time and manmade alterations to the landscape, the actual location of the path of the Neosho River Crossing had been lost to history.
The imaginary line on the earth's surface known as the 100th Meridian can now be located in Dodge City, Kansas thanks to the efforts of a local Boy Scout working on his Eagle project.
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.
Have you seen one of these signs along the Santa Fe Trail?
Do you know of any that aren't on our list of Santa Fe Trail Oval Signs!
Please let us know and we will add it to our list.
Palmer School is no longer a junior high. The City of Independence remodeled the gymnasium and cafeteria and it is now the Palmer Senior Center. The Independence School District Administration remodeled and moved into the main building for more space.
Story about tracking of the Pawnee Rock, Kansas Oval Santa Fe Trail Sign that once was mounted on the school in Pawnee Rock and photographed in 1952.
Some two centuries prior to the advent of the Santa Fe Trail, English settlers moved to the mountains of New Hampshire. They brought with them from the Boston-Salem area large red oxen imported from Denmark.
A Perilous & Dangerous Crossing of the Wet/Dry Routes on the Santa Fe Trail in Pawnee County, Kansas.
Pawnee Fork Crossing A Cool Oasis. More information on this crossing on the Santa Fe Trail in Pawnee County, Kansas.
The Pawnee River has its source in northwest Gray County, Kansas, and flows north into Finney County and east through Hodgeman County before veering northeast to the southeast corner of Ness County. From that point, the stream returns southeast to Hodgeman County and proceeds eastward through Pawnee County to Larned.
If this giant sentinel of the "Plains" could speak, what an annalist it would be of the terrible events that have occurred on the beautiful prairie stretching out almost interminably at its feet? All over its scarred and storm beaten front carved in quaint and rude lettering, are the names of hundreds of adventurers, who in the early years of its history made the dangerous and exciting journey of the "Old Santa Fe Trail."
A rare but interesting little book about James Ross Larkin on the Santa Fe Trail is entitled Reluctant Frontiersman. If I were to choose a subtitle for my topic, it might well be "Unlikely Frontiersman."
The military career of Captain William Pelzer lasted a mere nine months. Yet during this brief and hectic period the Captain left a deep impression on all who were unfortunate enough to have been stationed with him.
Photo's and Pictures we've taken on our trips along the Santa Fe Trail. Most of the pages have a little history about the site where the photo was taken.
On October 29, 1806 Pike and his men crossed the Pawnee River near the south edge of present Larned, Kansas. Pike's maps and notes were used by William Becknell in 1821 when he opened what we now call the Santa Fe Trail.
The Point of Rocks bluff has a rimrock of soft caliche and a base of somewhat harder limestone and is an inpressive landmark that can be seen from points to the south and up and down the river for quite a distance. Several holes of fresh water have been known to exist up and down the Cimarron in this region, the intervals depending on rainfall for a given season.
Marion Sloan Russell recalled a building at Pawnee Rock in 1856, which she described as a trapper's cabin. On a return trip to Santa Fe in 1860, Maid Marion observed "the cabin…still untenanted," beyond Russell's account, the presence of a habitation at Pawnee Rock was rarely mentioned. Two reports are presently known, both in the form of sketches.
Trading ranches established along the many routes of the Santa Fe Trail often served as stage stations, as did the ranche at the Smoky Hill River. Upon securing the mail contract for weekly deliveries between Junction City and Fort Larned in 1862, the Kansas Stage Company dispatched Henry Tisdale to establish stations at the infant towns of Abilene and Salina and at the Crossing of the Smoky Hill River, Cow Creek, and Walnut Creek.
Trading ranches along the Santa Fe Trail were important to those who traveled the route, and the history of many of these has been recorded. Louise Barry, for example, wrote about the ranches at the Little Arkansas, Cow Creek, Walnut Creek, Great Bend, and Cimarron Crossing. Ranches also were established along the connecting routes, and these are also a part of Trail History.
The Arkansas River has its source in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado near Leadville and flows southeast to Pueblo before taking an easterly orientation to the Kansas line and continuing on to a point near Ford, Kansas.
During the first three decades of the Santa Fe Trail, the traders rarely deviated from the established route which departed western Missouri to traverse the prairies of Indian territory before reaching the big bend of the Arkansas River, 270 miles from Independence.
The lives of some frontier characters are well chronicled by way of journals, military records, newspapers, and family accounts. Others have only a paucity of data to document their lives.
During the first decades of the nineteenth century, there were two types of roads in our young republic, improved and unimproved. Improved roads, toll roads known as turnpikes and public roads known as highways, had drainage ditches on either side of an elevated roadbed.
The early Dry Route enters Ford County just west of Offerle, Kansas and travels on or near US 50 highway into Dodge City, Kansas. Along this route Trail Ruts can be seen at four different locations before reaching Dodge City. This route was used before Fort Dodge was established.
The Anglos called it Walnut Creek. The Mexicans called Rio de Nuezes. The Kiowas called it One Arm Creek for a reason which will be revealed.
In an earlier article, "Another Rut Preserved" spoke to the single rut which bisects the Hillside Cemetery near Kinsley, Kansas.
The historic property at 502 West 2nd Street in Larned, Kansas is the location described by George Sibley as the August 31, 1825 campsite of the Santa Fe Road survey team, has been purchased by local history enthusiasts in 1995; Bob Rein, Mildon Yeager, and David Clapsaddle, members of The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail.
The original proprietor of the Six Mile Creek Station is not known. However, Samuel Shaft who was appointed postmaster at Six Mile in February, 1863 is presumed to be the initial owner.
In the death of Mrs. Sturdevant, Larned has lost it oldest citizen in point of age and one of its oldest settlers. She was a most remarkable woman in many ways besides her extreme age. She had an unusual memory and to the last her recollections of the events of her long life were clear and distinct.
The eastern terminus of the road was the village of Franklin on the Missouri River about 200 miles upstream from St. Louis, Santa Fe, located in the northernmost province of Mexico, was over 900 miles from Franklin. This then is the tale of two cities, the village named Franklin and the villa known as Santa Fe.
Any history of the caucasian in and around Tampa, Kansas, must begin with the Santa Fe Trail. The American Indian freely roamed these prairies for many centuries prior to the 19th Century. In 1822 the Santa Fe Trail was established. It cut across northern Marion County from Lost Springs to Tampa to northwest of Durham and thence southwesterly to the McPherson County line.
The Santa Fe Trail ran directly in front of the house. This was the last house Santa Fe freighters passed leaving Council Grove, Kansas as late as 1863. Present research indicates that it is the third oldest residence remaining in Council Grove, Kansas
As the Santa Fe Trail left the wooded valley of the Missouri River, it crossed over into Indian Territory less than a mile from the town of Westport, Missouri's westernmost outpost.
The exact date Tim McCarthy arrived at Larned is unknown. One source reported that the Irishman came to Larned in 1870, an unlikely account since the Larned Town Company was not organized until 1871. Jessie Bright Grove reported that McCarthy came in 1872 when the town was being laid out.
The Wet/Dry Routes Chapter Newsletter contains a lot of historic information about the Santa Fe Trail. This link will take you to the most important and documented information contained in the Traces Newsletter, with links to that newsletter.
The year was 1852 an unfortunate time for James S. Calhoun, governor of the Territory of New Mexico, who died on the Santa Fe Trail en route to Kansas City.
Seventeen and half miles west of Lost Spring was Cottonwood Creek in present Marion County. Sometimes called Cottonwood Grove for its fine stand of timber, it was the last place on the Santa Fe Trail where wood could be obtained for miles.
Between 1854 and 1866 freight wagons by the thousands, to say nothing of the military movements and stagecoaches, made great use of these toll bridges.
There were many campgrounds on the Trail more picturesque than Lower Cimarron Spring (later to be called Wagon Bed Spring), but there was none more vital to the early traders.
Historical records were also used to help identify the location of Lower Cimarron Spring. These records include the survey notes and maps of Joseph C. Brown, who mapped the Santa Fe Trail in 1825, as well as a description of an ice house that was constructed adjacent to Lower Cimarron Spring by Grant County settlers
This 10-year compilation is offered to assist those interested in finding specific topics in the forty issues of Wagon Track indexed. Thanks is hereby extended to all those who contributed to this effort. Bonita and Leo Oliva
Between Pawnee Fork and Fort Atkinson there are, for about three-fourths of the distance, two routes---one known as the river route, the other as the dry route…The fork of the road is in a ravine, three and a half miles beyond Pawnee fork crossing…At ten miles from Fort Atkinson the dry route strikes into the valley of the river. By our computation, this route, which is near fifty miles long, saves in distance about ten or eleven miles---but the river route is certainly preferable, as it affords good grazing and an abundance of water.
"Lt. William H. Whipple, 1852"
This article was used on a tour that was conducted some time back on the Wet/Dry Routes. It contains some good information on this section of the Santa Fe Trail in Central Kansas.
In 1863 Lean Bear, a Southern Cheyenne chief, accompanied a number of Southern Plains representatives to Washington D. C.
William H. Hagan, came from Kentucky to Jackson County Missouri in the early 1840's and settled in the area of Independence, Missouri. After he was married in 1850, and needing the income, he began working for the freighting firm of West, Majors, Russell & Waddell.
The stone wall on the west side of the school collapsed in 1995 and has lay in the warm brown soil of Wabaunsee county since then. Now the wall is literally being dug out of the mud and is slowly taking shape as a straight weather proof wall again.
In the trans-Mississippi West, travelers camped in the open far removed from even the meager amenities of a frontier settlement or a trading ranch, had to depend upon mother nature for the elements of survival, if not comfort.
"Tuesday, July 15,1806. We sailed from the landing at Belle Fontaine about 3 o'clock p.m., in two boats. Our party consisted of two lieutenants, one surgeon, one sergent, two corporals, 16 privates, and one interpreter."
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
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Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.