Near Howell in Ford County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
The Worst Piece of Road
For 60 years, this prairie soil was torn by the hooves of mules, oxen, and horses, and compacted by the weight of the large freight wagons they pulled. The wagons of a caravan traveled four abreast to avoid dust and to quickly form defensive circles. They moved over when tracks became too deep or muddy, creating additional parallel ruts.
Today, shouts and cracks of the bullwhackers' whips, and the rattling of the harness and wagons have fallen silent. The depth of the ruts has dwindled due to wind and rain, but their continued existence attests to the thousands of people, wagons, horses, mules, oxen, and carriages that used this great highway.
"Sunday, September 11, 1825.
Morning calm and cool....The Waggons were obliged to turn out into the High Prairie, and go round a considerable distance to get past this rugged Bluff....Altogether, I believe this is the worst piece of Road we have had since we left Ft. Osage."
- George Sibley
U.S. surveyor of road to Santa Fe
Look for long, wide depressions, different vegetation, and water courses running at odd angles at places where "bridges' in the path span ruts. They are easiest to see when the sun is low.
Erected by National Park Service and Boot Hill Museum.
Marker series. Santa Fe Trail marker series.
Location. 37° 47.449′ N, 100° 11.808′ W. Marker is near Howell, Kansas, in Ford County. Click for map. Trail Ruts park is on the right while traveling west of US Hwy 50/400, about ½ mile west of Howell Road. Marker is in this post office area: Dodge City KS 67801, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Santa Fe Trail Remains (within shouting distance of this marker); Soule's Ditch (within shouting distance of this marker); Trails on the Prairie (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Santa Fe Trail Sites to the West & South (about 400 feet away); A Fine Country... (about 400 feet away); Santa Fe Trail, 1821 - 1880 (about 400 feet away); Santa Fe Trail Sites to the East (about 400 feet away); Campsite of the U.S. Survey Team Sept. 10-21, 1825 (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Howell.
Also see . . .
1. Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Submitted on May 20, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
2. Santa Fe Trail Association. (Submitted on May 20, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
3. USGS Aerial Photos of Santa Fe Trail. (Submitted on May 20, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
4. Santa Fe Trail Rut Site Near Howell KS (Submitted on May 20, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
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Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page has been viewed 355 times since then and 62 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.