Visited: July 2020
Duration: 1.5 days
Location: Council Grove, Kansas to Dodge City, Kansas
Welcome back to our Santa Fe Trail expedition! If you haven’t read the first part of our trail please do so here – Santa Fe Trail Eastern Terminus.
This next section of the trail goes through the beautiful state of Kansas, you can follow along with the Junior Wagon Master Booklet at the link below.
We begin this part of the trail in Council Grove, Kansas. A cute little town with lots of Santa Fe Trail history. This location became known as the “rendezvous” point of the Santa Fe Trail. This was the last place for caravans to gather supplies for their wagons. Traders gathered in this site to wait for enough people to create a caravan to make the journey onward. The statue in the picture above depicts the women on the Santa Fe Trail, because this was mainly a trade route, women weren’t in abundance, the ones who did make the journey were strong and courageous.
Here in Council Grove we visited the Madonna Statue, The Post Oak (and old oak tree that served as a post office, traders would leave notes in the tree) and the Neosho River Walk where we needed to answer questions in our Junior Wagon Master Book.
Next stop is Lost Spring, a few miles west of Council Grove. Here (was a 2 day drive in the wagons from Council Grove) the wagons could camp and get water. It was named lost spring because the spring eventually dried up and disappeared. Here we had to make a stone rubbing of the monument for our Wagon Master Book.
Continuing westward 20 or so more miles we found Cottonwood Crossing. Here we had to read the wayside markers of people’s accounts of what happened on the trail to answer some questions in our book. We had to look pretty hard for this.
We headed out to Hwy 56 to get to the next destination. The highway has signs to let you know where these are but we still followed the directions in the book. Up next was Chisholm Crossing, here we needed to draw and fill in the map found here in our book and write a song about the trail, ours were very interesting. As you can see even Yogi was enjoying the trail.
We skipped the next part of the book – The Coronado-Quivera Museum, I can’t remember if it was closed due to Covid or just closed because it was getting later in the day. We would have liked to stop but we didn’t need it to complete our book pages luckily.
Next stop for us was Ralph’s Ruts, thankfully Ralph Hathaway preserved this place so generations could still enjoy seeing the ruts in the prairie along the trail. Here we answered more questions and wrote Ralph a letter thanking him for his generosity.
In for the night in Great Bend, had a nice dinner and got some well needed rest to conquer the remainder of the Central Terminus.
Next morning we headed out and stopped at our next stop, Pawnee Rock. I drove past this site dozens of times going back and forth to Dodge City and never noticed it. It was actually beautiful and peaceful the morning we went. Our books had us drawing in the shapes on the monument, answering questions and writing a poem. Kids did a great job on all 3.
Oh this next stop was amazing, I could have spent the day here but I only allocated a couple of hours on the itinerary. This place was done really well and we all enjoyed this stop! Just wish we had more time here. What was it?? The Santa Fe Trail Museum outside of Larned Kansas.
Here we needed to fill out what goods were traveling what direction on the trail. This one was a little tough until we found the display we needed. After this we walked around and enjoyed the other displays. As shown below we are about half way on the trail (Hunter is pointing where we are)
Just a few miles West down the highway was our next stop.
Fort Larned National Historic Site. I won’t go into heavy details about his stop since you can read it on it’s own blog here
Here just visiting, doing the Fort Larned Junior Ranger and getting a signature on the Junior Wagon Master book page gets you a task done towards your completion.
Our next stop was the last stop for our Central Route on the trail. It was found west of Dodge City Kansas.
The Santa Fe Trail ruts. Here the travelers had to choose between taking the Mountain Route or the Cimarron Route, both had there own dangers. This crew decided to take the Moutain route, then veer off and enjoy some Colorado National Parks when we were done.
Here we answered questions about the ruts and views. Concluding our trip on the Central Route of the trail.
We managed to finish all the tasks we needed in this section of the book. Earning us the Central patch. Here is a picture of all of the patches we earned doing the whole trail. Pretty sweet!
Check out the other portions of the trail at the following links