WAGON BED SPRINGS

Historical marker on KS25
South of Ulysses, Grant County


About two miles west were the Lower Springs of the Cimarron, an oasis in dry weather, where shortcuts of the Santa Fe trail converged to continue up the river. The most popular cut-off turned southwest from the Arkansas river in present Gray county. The 60-mile stretch between the two river, known as the "Jornada," was a perilous route for men and animals in dry seasons when wagon trains often ran out of water. Here also fierce Plains Indians frequently attacked and plundered the caravans. Near here in 1831 the noted Western explorer and fur trader Jedediah Smith, lost four days without water, was killed by Comanches just as he reached the river.

Late in the history of the trail a wagon box set in the water gave the springs their name. Little remains of this famous camping place, but wheel ruts of the old trail may still be seen in near-by areas.

Erected by the Kansas Historical Society and State Highway Commission
Marker text sent by Mike LeMasters, Wichita, KS

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February 9, 1999 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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