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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kansas City in Jackson County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The French and the Santa Fe Trail

 
 
The French and the Santa Fe Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, July 12, 2009
1. The French and the Santa Fe Trail Marker
Inscription. The Santa Fe Trail extended nearly 1,000 miles overall from the Missouri River ports Southwest to Taos and Santa Fe. The first exploration and trading on the direct overland trail was conducted by the colonial French. The 1680 pueblo revolt in New Mexico cut off Spanish trade with the Southwestern Indians, and French traders were quick to fill the void. The Illinois French were then pushing up the Missouri River and far to the West, looking for gold and silver - and beaver for hats for Louis XIV's Court at Versailles. The Spanish Hidalgos reported with alarm in the 1690's that many French were "coming across the plains" to the centuries-old Taos Fair.

Etienne Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, surveyed the lower Missouri for Louis XIV in 1713, and set out overland from Kawsmouth to Santa Fe for the Regent, the Duc d'Orleans, and the Company of the Indies a decade later. Sickness and cold weather turned him back. He recovered in time to return and hold an immense pow-wow with the Comanches and others in the vicinity of Ellsworth, Kansas, gave them extravagant gifts, and obtained a treaty which opened the Santa Fe Trail to the French.

The direct overland prairie journey from Kawsmouth was a well-known French route to Taos and Santa Fe, used not only by Bourgmont, but also by many French military, priests and robust coureurs-de-bois
The French and the Santa Fe Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, July 18, 2009
2. The French and the Santa Fe Trail Marker
Reverse of the marker with the text in French
like James Michener's "Pasquinal." The early French also took the Missouri-Platte-South Platte river voyage, and thence by land to Santa Fe. Well documented expeditions took this route in 1739, 1749, and 1752; the 1752 expedition leader accurately predicting that "caravans of horses" would soon carry "goods and clothing" directly overland to Santa Fe from Kawsmouth.

The Spanish at Santa Fe in 1795 sent a Frenchman, Pedro (Pierre) Vial, to reopen direct overland trade with the Missouri River communities. Sacajawae's son, "Bap" Charbonneau, part French and an 1823 resident of "Chez les Canses" (the early French name for Kansas City), later worked for the famous Santa Fe Trail traders, Bent & St. Vrain.
 
Erected by Chouteau Society.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Santa Fe Trail marker series.
 
Location. 39° 3.162′ N, 94° 35.494′ W. Marker is in Kansas City, Missouri, in Jackson County. Marker is at the intersection of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue on Westport Road. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Kansas City MO 64111, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. McCoy's Trading Post (here, next to this marker); The Albert G. Boone Store
The French and the Santa Fe Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, July 12, 2009
3. The French and the Santa Fe Trail Marker
Area shot of the marker - Kelly's Westport Inn can be see in the distance.
(within shouting distance of this marker); Original Site of Harris House (within shouting distance of this marker); Action Before Westport (within shouting distance of this marker); Three Trails West (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Alexander Majors (about 400 feet away); John Calvin McCoy (about 400 feet away); James Bridger (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Kansas City.
 
More about this marker. This marker is in a small pocket park just to the southwest of intersection of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue. Westport is a major entertainment area and parking is at a premium on Friday and Saturday nights. As of July 27, 2015, a building is being erected on the site where the marker once stood. It is not certain where the marker will be placed once construction is finished.
 
Also see . . .
1. Santa Fe National Historical Trail. Take a journey between western Missouri and Santa Fe on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Submitted on July 25, 2009, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.)
View from Quality Hill image. Click for full size.
By Thomas Onions, September 4, 2009
4. View from Quality Hill
Photo of Kawsmouth and the "French" or West Bottoms taken from Quality Hill. The "Kaw" or Kansas River empties into the Missouri in the center of this photo.
 

2. Chouteau Society. This is the link to the group that furnished the marker. (Submitted on July 25, 2009, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

3. Legends of America. History, Information, Maps, etc., of the Santa Fe Trail. (Submitted on July 25, 2009, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

4. “With Each Turn of the Wheel”. KMNE – Channel 5 production. This video is almost an hour, so allow time. (Submitted on July 25, 2009, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 

5. Westport Historical Society. Link to the history of the area that is Westport. (Submitted on July 25, 2009, by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.) 
 
Additional keywords. Santa Fe Trail
 
Categories. Native AmericansSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas. This page has been viewed 2,183 times since then and 32 times this year. Last updated on , by Michael W. Kruse of Kansas City, Missouri. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas.   4. submitted on , by Thomas Onions of Olathe, Kansas. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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