Olathe in Johnson County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
For more than four decades, tens of thousands of travelers camped here. The Lone Elm campground was one or two nights out from the frontier "jumping off" points on the Missouri River. The great lone elm tree that gave this frontier campground its lasting name served as a landmark for this famous rendezvous point along the western trails.
The travelers were diverse. Some would become legendary, some were seeking profit by the freighting trade, some would succumb to hardships and tragedy, and some wanted the opportunity for free land and a new start in Oregon and California. The land could be harsh. Stream crossings were hazardous. Disease and infections were common. Cholera was feared; the microscopic bacterium would cause severe dehydration resulting frequently in death.
"This morning we buried John N. Collins, a private in Captain Turney's company. His grave is situated on the right hand of the road about 150 yards east of the 'Lone Elm' the only tree to be seen on the prairie for miles around..."
- Private Benjamin Wiley
July 14, 1847 excerpt from his journal during the Mexican War.
Courtesy of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
A bold and adventurous 14 year old runaway joined a caravan heading down the Santa Fe Trail
Traders, trappers and frontiersman would interact with emigrants and gold seekers. Because of the uncertainties of trail travel, the exchange of stories provided advice and comfort to those traveling for the first time. However, it could also provide a chilling premonition of things yet to be experienced.
"...We arrived at a camp called the Lone Elm, across the Missouri line. This place was thought to be the limit of civilization, at this camp we met some hunters returning with furs & they gave us some dried buffalo meat and told us that we had no idea of what we would suffer before we reached California. This prediction proved too true - At this camp was a Elm tree the only tree of any kind in sight. I shall never forget the lonliness of the scene boy though I was at the time.
- John Breen
14 year old John
Erected by City of Olathe.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Oregon Trail, and the Santa Fe Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 49.347′ N, 94° 49.817′ W. Marker is in Olathe, Kansas, in Johnson County. Click for map. Marker is about 50 feet SE of the picnic shelter in Lone Elm Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 21151 West 167th Street, Olathe KS 66062, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Trail Campground..To Farm..To Park (here, next to this marker); A Most Desirable Spot For Camping (here, next to this marker); Roads To The West (here, next to this marker); Lone Elm Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Trails West (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lone Elm Campground (about 700 feet away); Santa Fe Trail (approx. 0.3 miles away); Elm Grove Campground (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Olathe.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Lone Elm Park. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
2. Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
3. Oregon-California Trails Association. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
4. Santa Fe Trail Association. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
5. The Interactive Santa Fe Trail. (Submitted on August 13, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
Categories. • Exploration • Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers • War, Mexican-American •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page has been viewed 913 times since then and 82 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.