Monday, October 4, 2010

Marker Monday - The Sante Fe Trail

I love field trips! When we moved to Kansas I knew the Sante Fe Trail ran through here but I never realized it basically ran right by our door! Fifteen minutes north of our home is the town of Cimarron where the kids and I stopped the other day for a photo opp in a covered wagon. Look how small it is!! The boys and I tried to get a grasp on what it would be like to pack up only what was important and travel the plains. Wow!

In Cimarron the 1800's settlers would have a choice. They could continue west along the mountain route of the Sante Fe Trail or head along the southwest fork known as the Cimarron route.  The mountain route was longer but safer and had more reliable water. The Cimarron route was shorter but settlers had to travel for at least 60 miles without any place to get water while they worried about Indians. Hmmm, which would you choose?

After playing in the wagon or a bit we drove a little further to a destiation halfway between Dodge City and Cimarron on Highway 50 along the Sante Fe Trail. In some cases parts of highways, like Highway 50, travel the original Sante Fe Trail.  

I didn't realize the Sante Fe Trail had been used for over fifty years. At this little sight seeing stop it claims you can still see the wagon ruts made so many years ago. Below is an aerial photo of the wagon ruts. The Soule Canal by the way is an irrigation ditch dug by farmers in the late 1800's with the intention of irrigating crops from the Arkansas River. Unfortunately the canal was a failure but the ditch is still there.

So this is what we were supposed to be looking for here as evidence of the wagon ruts.

As we walked the path I kept scanning the horizon looking for remnants of the ruts. Depressions, different plant life....

I guess I'm not seeing it. Can you?

I'm sure they are there but maybe I just don't know what I should be looking for. Maybe we should come back at another time of the year.

It is a sight though isn't it? Looking across the prairie at the vast nothingness. It's hard to imagine traveling for months across the prairie in nothing but a wagon and then arriving to at your destination to live in nothing but a sod house.

It was difficult trying to explain to the boys just what exactly we were supposed to be looking for across the prarie but it was an educational spot to stop. I'm a sucker for historical places like this and make every effort to introduce my kids to such places. They are too young to remember much or realize exactly the significance of this spot. But my dad always says, "Little by little is the way you expose your kids to learning. Eventually they'll put all the knowledge together themselves and they'll get it." Dad should know! There was never a trip my family went on without some educational experience.

Thanks Dad for helping me to pass on a learning legacy to my own kids!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! We stopped to find the Sante Fe trail not too far from where you were. We were on our way to Colorado, Montrose to be more exact. We saw the ruts, but my most memorable moment came later when I discovered i had been bit by like 8-9 horseflies pr some such evil, blood thirsty bugs! That night was not so much fun for me; I am very allergic to bug bites!

    I think your dad is right, and he and my dad parented from the same book, that and my dad was a history teacher for 30-some years ;-)


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