The Santa Fe trail, extending 750 miles from the Kansas City area to the old Spanish settlement of Santa Fe, was the great overland trade route of the 1820's to 1870's. Its commercial use began in 1821, when William Becknell headed west with a pack train from Franklin, Mo. For more than 500 miles the road lay in Kansas, angling southwest past such historic landmarks as Council Grove and Pawnee Rock.
Between present Larned and Fort Dodge, there were two routes. One, keeping to the ridges and higher ground, was used in wet weather. The other, favored during dry spells, lay along the bottom lands near the Arkansas river.
West of this marker the trail divided again. One road, following the north bank of the Arkansas, led to Bent's Fort in Colorado and then dropped south to Santa Fe. A second route crossed the river at several palaces between here and the Lakin vicinity. This was the famed cut-off to the Cimarron river which continued through southwest Kansas past Wagon Bed Springs and Point of Rocks. Although it was shorter, lack of water and the constant threat of Indian attack made it extremely dangerous.
Marker text sent by Mike LeMasters, Wichita, KS
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