Near Howell in Ford County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Trails on the Prairie
You are standing on a bluff above the Arkansas River, an international boundary between the United States and Mexico during the early years of the Santa Fe Trail. This area was prone to flooding and the ruts offer an excellent illustration of how the freighters worked with the terrain to make the easiest passage.
Making Their Way
Wagons were hauled up onto this high ground to avoid the wet bottomlands around the river. Aerial photographs show the marks left on the land.
Choosing a Path
The trail split only a few miles west of here. Traders chose either the Mountain Route or followed the Cimarron Route via multiple river crossings into Mexico.
We next came to the Cimarron [river], where everything looked lush and green, but not a tree or a bush. The river...here is nothing more than a dirty pool of stagnant water.
Rebecca Mayer, 1852
[Inset photo captions read]
[Top] Fort Dodge, shown ca. 1867, protected travelers on the trail.
[Middle] The ruts became deeper as more wagons traveled past.
[Bottom] Wagons traveled abreats, leaving parallel ruts. The deeper, curving mark on the landscape is the remains of Soule Canal.
All photos courtesy of Boot Hill Museum
Erected by the National Park
Marker series. This marker is included in the Santa Fe Trail marker series.
Location. 37° 47.387′ N, 100° 11.828′ 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 Sites to the West & South (here, next to this marker); A Fine Country... (here, next to this marker); Santa Fe Trail, 1821 - 1880 (here, next to this marker); Santa Fe Trail Sites to the East (here, next to this marker); Campsite of the U.S. Survey Team Sept. 10-21, 1825 (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Santa Fe Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); The Worst Piece of Road (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Santa Fe Trail Remains (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Howell.
More about this marker. Marker is in a kiosk along the walking path.
Also see . . .
1. Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Submitted on May 25, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Santa Fe Trail Association. (Submitted on May 25, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Man-Made Features • Roads & Vehicles •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 410 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.