Cimarron River.The history of this stream discloses the fact that early map makers and explorers confused it with the one known as the "Salt Fork." One of the earliest mentions of the Cimarron was in 1807 by Pike, who called it the "Grand Saline" or "Newsewtonga." In Nuttall's narrative, 1818-20, he calls the stream the "Grand Saline;" Melish, 1820, the "Jefferson;" Tanner, 1823, the "Nesuhetonga or Grand Saline;" Finlay, 1826, the "Grand Saline;" Gregg, 1840, the "Cimarron;" Mitchell, 1846, the "Cimarone or Salt Fork;" Tanner, 1846, the "Semarone, Negracka, or Red River;" Mitchell, 1874, as "Cimmaron;" and "First Red Fork of the Arkansas," "Red Fork" and "Salt River" attaching at various times. The term "Red Fork" was undoubtedly applied to the stream on account of the red tinge of its waters, received from contact with the red clay along its banks. "Negracka" is probably of Siouan origin, most likely an Osage word. Cimarron is a Spanish word, meaning "wild, or unruly." The name Saline and Grand Saline have been applied indiscriminately to the Cimarron and the Salt Fork of the Arkansas, the name Grand Saline being more applicable to the Cimarron.
The Cimarron has its source in the mountains of Union county, N. M. Flowing in an easterly direction its two branches enter Kansas in the southwest corner countyMortonthe north fork flowing across this county and the southeast corner of Stanton county and entering Grant. The south fork crosses Morton county and the northwest corner of Stevens and enters Grant county, where the two branches unite, the combined Cimarron then flowing in a southeast direction through Seward county and the extreme southwest corner of Meade county into Oklahoma. A few miles below the Kansas line the stream makes a turn, flows east about 25 miles, again enters Kansas in Clark county, flowing across the southeast corner of that county and leaving the state from the southwest corner of Comanche county. In Oklahoma the river flows about two-thirds the distance across that state and empties into the Arkansas river near the town of Leroy.
Probably no other stream in Kansas can boast the natural scenery to be found along the Cimarron. An early day writer has said that the river traversed a "country remarkably rugged and broken, affording the most romantic and picturesque views imaginable. It is a tract of about 75 miles square in which nature has displayed a great variety of the most strange and whimsical vagaries. It is an assemblage of beautiful meadows, verdant ridges, and rude, misshapen piles of red clay, thrown together in the utmost apparent confusion, yet affording the most pleasant harmonies and presenting us in every direction an endless variety of curious and interesting objects." The early freighters and hunters have made mention of the wild fruits they found in abundance along the stream, including plums, grapes, choke cherries, gooseberries and currants, of which there were three kinds, black, red and white. About the ravines and in the marshy ground along the stream there were several varieties of wild onions, resembling garlic in flavor, and which the travelers found very acceptable in cooking, to season meats. The Santa Fe trail struck the Cimarron in what is now Grant county, and from there into New Mexico closely followed the stream. The Cimarron is about 650 miles in length, of which about 175 miles are in Kansas.Pages 349-350 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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