Lawrence and the Old Trails


      Between Lawrence and Topeka, the Kansas turnpike passes near the route
of the old Oregon-California Trail, traveled in the 1800s by explorers,
missionaries, soldiers, emigrants in search of land and forty-niners in
search of gold.  Fifteen miles south of here was the Santa Fe Trail,
which for more than 50 years served mainly as a trail of trade and
commerce.  From the Missouri River its was some 2,000 miles to Oregon
and California and around 800 to Santa Fe, following trails established
centuries earlier by Native Americans.  Tribes living in that area during
the 1800s included the Delaware, Kaw, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Wyandot.

      Traders often stopped in Lawrence after its establishment in 1854.  The
town became famous as a free-state headquarters in the territorial fight
over slavery, with some of its most prominent citizens helping to
transport slaves to freedom along the underground railroad.  Proslavery
men responded in 1856 by sacking the town and destroying the newspaper
office.  Lawrence underwent its greatest trial in 1863 when Confederate
guerillas led by Willian C.  Quantrill burned the town and killed more
than 150 men and boys.  Lawrence soon rebuilt, and today is home to the
University of Kansas and the Haskell Indian Nations University.

Erected by Kansas Historical Society
and Kansas Department of Transportation

Douglas County  
Located in the Lawrence Service Plaza
Kansas Turnpike (I-70), Milepost 209
Leavenworth County
 

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Marker text sent by Robert Walter, Pittsburg, KS


November 11, 2000 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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