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

Wagon Bed Springs

Wagon Bed Springs Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 16, 2022
1. Wagon Bed Springs Marker
About two miles west were the Lower Springs of the Cimarron River, known today as Wagon Bed Springs. For early-day travelers on the famous Santa Fe Trail, the springs were an “oasis” in dry weather. Several shortcuts of the trail converged here, with the most popular route running between here and the Arkansas River near the present-day town of Cimarron. The sixty-mile stretch between the two rivers, known as the Jornada, was a perilous route for men and animals in dry seasons when wagon trains often ran out of water. Near here in 1831, the noted western explorer and fur trader Jedediah Smith, after being lost and without water for four days, was killed by Comanches just as he reached the river.

Late in the history of the trail a wagon bed was set in the ground to collect water from one of the springs. The springs take their name from that event.

Despite the importance of this famous camping place, today there are few visible remains of the many travelers who once stayed here. In nearby areas, however, trail ruts can still be seen, left by the many wagons that traversed the trail.
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Kansas State Historical Society; and Kansas Department of Transportation. (Marker Number 83.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceNative AmericansRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Kansas Historical Society, and the Santa Fe Trail series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1831.
Location. 37° 24.389′ N, 101° 19.934′ W. Marker is near Hugoton, Kansas, in Grant County. Marker is on State Highway 25, 14.4 miles north of U.S. 56, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located in a pull-out on the west side of the highway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hugoton KS 67951, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Mormon Battalion at Cimarron Springs (Wagon Bed Springs) (a few steps from this marker); Jedediah Strong Smith (a few steps from this marker); Veterans Memorial (approx. 11.9 miles away); Grant County Shop (Adobe) Building (approx. 11.9 miles away); a different marker also named Veterans Memorial (approx. 12 miles away); Dan C. Sullivan (approx. 12.4 miles away).
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
Wagon Bed Springs Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 16, 2022
2. Wagon Bed Springs Marker
(looking northwest from Kansas Highway 25 pull-out)

1. Wagon Bed Spring.
Wagon Bed Spring is located at what was historically the north bank of the Cimarron River, in a rural setting about 12 miles south of Ulysses, Kansas. The river is a historically intermittent stream, and its channel has been altered since the 19th century by flooding, and the actual spring site is now in the river bed. The flow of the spring came from an outcropping of the Ogallala Formation. Center pivot irrigation adjacent to the spring resulted in lowering of the water table and the spring ceased to flow in the 1960s.

The site is historically and archaeologically significant as a major migrant camp site on the Santa Fe Trail. The spring was one of the few reliable sources of water along the Cimarron Cutoff between the watersheds of the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers, and many migrant and military groups camped here in the 60 years or so that the trail was used.

(Submitted on January 9, 2023, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Jedediah Strong Smith (1799-1831).
American clerk, transcontinental pioneer, frontiersman, hunter, trapper, author, cartographer, mountain man and explorer of the Rocky Mountains, the Western United States, and the Southwest during the early 19th century. After 75 years of obscurity following his death,
Looking Northwest from Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 16, 2022
3. Looking Northwest from Marker
Smith was rediscovered as the American whose explorations led to the use of the 20-mile-wide South Pass as the dominant point of crossing the Continental Divide for pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Surviving three Native American massacres and one bear mauling, Smith's explorations and documented travels were important resources to later American westward expansion. On May 27, 1831, while searching for water in present-day southwest Kansas, Smith disappeared. It was learned weeks later that he had been killed during an encounter with the Comanche – his body was never recovered.
(Submitted on January 9, 2023, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 10, 2023. It was originally submitted on January 9, 2023, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 170 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 9, 2023, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Apr. 22, 2024