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

Trails on the Prairie

 
 
Trails on the Prairie Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., November 10, 2012
1. Trails on the Prairie Marker
Inscription.  
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.
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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 Service, Boot Hill Museum, and Santa Fe Trail Association.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Santa Fe Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1852.
 
Location. 37° 47.387′ N, 100° 11.828′ W. Marker is near Howell, Kansas, in Ford County. Trail Ruts Park is on the right while traveling west of US Hwy 50/400, about ½ mile west of Howell Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dodge City KS 67801, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
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
Trails on the Prairie Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., November 10, 2012
2. Trails on the Prairie Marker
In kiosk along path. Looking northeast
(about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Santa Fe Trail Remains (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map 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.)
 
Inset Images on Trails on the Prairie Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Unknown, varied
3. Inset Images on Trails on the Prairie Marker
Courtesy Boot Hill Museum
Santa Fe Trail Ruts Run Under Bridges Along Path image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., November 10, 2012
4. Santa Fe Trail Ruts Run Under Bridges Along Path
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 25, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 620 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 25, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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Apr. 22, 2024