Leavenworth — Although the majority of traffic through Fort Leavenworth was military supply wagons, civilians and settlers also climbed the bluffs to begin their routes west . Fort Leavenworth provided many soldiers to protect suppliers and travelers. Today, a larger than life bronze statue honors the service of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. Sixty five unknown soldiers were moved from Fort Larned and reburied at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm historic Site, Olathe, is the last remaining stagecoach stop on the Historic Santa Fe Trail still open to the public.
At Council Grove you can visit the Kaw Mission State Historic Site, and also see the historic tree that served as the unofficial post office for the Trail west.
In McPherson view the breath-taking beauty of the rolling prairie while you ride a modern-day “covered wagon” (tram) at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge. See roaming herds of buffalo and elk, as well as other prairie dwellers and beautiful wildflowers, as you enjoy a campfire meal on the prairie.
Experience Ralph’s Ruts and other original Trail sites in Rice County that have gone untouched . While in Lyons, follow brick streets leading to the town square and the Coronado Quivira Museum. Here you can explore the region’s rich Trail history about the Quivira Indians, Coronado’s 1541 trek north, and the 1843 murder of a Mexican trader along Jarvis Creek.
At the western edge of Ellinwood, the north bank of the Arkansas River was a well known location because of the availability of fuel and water after traveling from Cow Creek Crossing. Supplies were maintained at this favorite campsite.
Great Bend is named for it’s location on the “great bend” in the Arkansas River. The Barton County Historical Village is an official interpretive center of the Santa Fe Trail.
Pawnee Rock Experience - a panoramic view of an area once considered the most dangerous point on the Trail.
Fort Larned —NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE Step back into the authentic Old West with a visit to Fort Larned, guardian of the Santa Fe Trail for nearly 20 years.
Beautifully restored by the National Park Service, the Fort stands as one of the finest examplesof that bygone era . Take a self-guided tour of the SANTA FE TRAIL CENTER museum near Larned and discover the history of the Trail from its earliest beginnings until the railroads extended settlement across the Plains and the Trail passed into history.
At Kinsley In Edwards County you’ll be at Midway USA, 1,561 miles from both New York and San Francisco. You can visit the authentic Sod House and Museum to see an interpretive display of marked sites along the Wet/Dry Routes of the Santa Fe Trail.
The “wickedest little city in the west,” Dodge City relied on notable lawmen like Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp to establish law andorder. The city offers the Trail enthusiast many historic points.
Fort Dodge was founded in 1865 to protect this part of the Trail. Since 1890 it has served as theKansas State Soldiers Home. Some of the wickedness of the early days can be seen at the Boot Hill Museum and the Gunfighter’s Wax Museum. Other attractions includethe Dodge City Trolley, the “Home of Stone,” and the Marchel Ranch Chuck Wagon Dinner and Wild West Show.
Garden City —The Santa Fe Trail in Finney County followed the north side of the Arkansas River from the Cimarron crossing, part of which wound through what is now Finnup Park and Lee Richardson Zoo, one of the state’s top attractions. The Finney County Museum offers an excellent SFT exhibit and research library with a wealth of SFT information. Nearby is the Sandsage Bison Range and Wildlife Area, historic downtown and the spectacular Windsor Hotel, a rare example of 1880s archi-tecture.
Wagon Bed Springs, near Ulysses, is located on a dry and dangerous stretch of the journey to Santa Fe. It was a welcome site to thirsty travelers.
It was near Wagon Bed Springs in 1831 that noted western explorer and fur trader Jedediah Smith met his death. After three days without water, Smith’s caravan of 74 men with teams and wagons was desperate. Smith left the caravan to search for the Spring and came upon a Comanche hunting party waiting for buffalo to come to water. In the ensuing fight, Jedediah Smith and an Indian were killed.
Elkhart is where the Santa Fe Trail leaves Kansas. Visit the Cimarron National Grassland and Point of Rocks. One can imagine an Indian lookout on top and a trail camp at the base. Near Middle Springs, white-covered wagons were parked in corral fashion. Trail-weary men talked as they fixed broken equipment. As camp fires blazed brightly, Trail adventurers busied themselves with the evening meal.
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