Cottonwood Crossing Chapter -Points of Interest

"...We found the colonel in a sad predicament indeed. He had one wagon fast in a mud hole
with the tongue twisted off, and the others so much disabled he could not move them."
— Susan Shelby Magoffin, Cottonwood Creek, June 25, 1846

Points of Interest: 

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Notable SFT highlights in Marion County, proceeding from east to west are:

D.A.R marker on Hwy 77, one mile east and 1.1 miles north of the Town of Lost Springs. This marker was originally placed in a park near the old Santa Fe and Rock Island Depots in the Town of Lost Springs. It is a little difficult to get to because it is set along the east right-of-way fence of the highway and you have walk across a drainage ditch to get to it.  

A small limestone marker in the Town of Lost Springs is located at the corner of Alexander and Jefferson Streets.


In the City Park of Lost Springs is a large stone monument with a bronze plaque placed by the DAR’s Eunice Sterling Chapter (Wichita, Kansas). The park is in the northeast part of the Town of Lost Springs.

One mile west of the Town of Lost Springs on the paved road (340th), then about ¼ mile north on Upland Road on the east side of Upland is a small limestone marker reading “SFT 1908” placed by the Old Settlers. After the field to the east is mowed, shallow swales of the SFT can be seen running toward the oil tanks on the top of the hill to the east. At this point the SFT branched into two routes going westward, one almost due west and one running to the northwest toward a spring labeled Lost Spring on the 1857 Land Survey Plat.

TWO AND ONE-HALF MILES WEST OF THE town of Lost Springs on 340th Road is the site of Lost Spring Station established in 1859 by Jack Costello, who won the station in a poker game. A post office was operated at the Lost Spring Station from August 29, 1861 to May 23, 1864. The post office was moved one mile east to the site of the Original Town of Lost Springs and re-opened July 9, 1879. A stone monument was erected in 1908 by the Old Settlers and Shields Family. To the northwest of the stone monument is a spring also known as Lost Spring.

The stone monument was moved to a new location on the north side of 340th road on July 3, 2009. A historic interpretive plaque was unveiled at the site and a new time capsule was placed in the base of the monument on July 3, 2010.


On Sunflower Road, about ¼ mile south of 340th Road is a trail crossing sign and another small limestone marker on the west side of the road. This marks a later branch of the SFT, most likely used from 1859 through approximately 1867.

At least through 1857, the main trail swung south of the site of Lost Spring Station to avoid crossing the broken ground of the valley of what is now called Cress Creek.


On Quail Creek Road (known locally as The Ramona Road) just north of 330th Road (known locally as the Tampa Road) is a stone marker placed by the Ramona school children and School District No. 90.

Behind the marker to the west can be seen very shallow swales of the SFT when the grass has been cut and the lighting conditions are right.


Between here and Tampa, Kansas, SFT swales can be seen in pastures and fields in various locations, but these are located on private land and are not accessible.

The Schwartzman ruts are the short linear features running left to right in the narrow pasture north of (above) the trees.


On the east side of the Lutheran Cemetery in Tampa (northeast of the intersection of 330th Road and Limestone Road at Tampa, Kansas) SFT swales can clearly be seen.

There are several swales oriented in approximately an east-west direction. Photo here darkened for contrast and effect, so you can clearly see the swales.


On the southwest corner of the intersection of 330th Road and Limestone Road at Tampa, Kansas can be seen a stone monument marking the trail.

The SFT crosses at this location.


Along the hillside west of Hwy K-15 about 0.4 miles south of 320th Road can be seen SFT swales running south-southwest.

These are most easily seen later in the afternoon.


To the north of 310th Road, about 0.4 miles west of Hwy K-15 is a SFT crossing marker.

SFT swales can clearly be seen running to the north-northeast of the sign.


On Goldenrod Road just north of Cottonwood Creek is a monument marking the SFT that was placed in 1906 by School District No. 57.

The monument’s lettering had become badly worn, so in 1965, John Borton, a contractor and builder from Hutchinson, Kansas had the monument refurbished and donated the bronze plaques to replace the badly worn lettering.




On 290th Road, about a mile and a half west of Durham on the paved road is the site of the Cottonwood Crossing of the Santa Fe Trial.

Zebulon Pike, who camped near this location on his expedition westward.
The Cottonwood Crossing, its difficulties and its significance.
Entrepreneurs of the Plains, the story of the road ranches that sprang up in the latter days of the Trail’s history.


In addition to the kiosk and three historic interpretive plaques, pictured above, adjacent to the kiosk is a D.A.R marker and across the road to the south is a limestone SFT marker with a distinctive pointed top.



Some excellent SFT swales are in a meadow on the hill to the south of the Cottonwood Crossing, but these are on private land.

Southwest of Durham, on 280th Road, about ½ mile west of Goldenrod Road is a SFT crossing sign. SFT swales are clearly visible running southwestward from the sign and are also visible to the north-northeast ascending a rise.
Beginning on Falcon Road, about 1.5 miles south of 280th Road, and extending for over three and one-half miles to 250th Road about ¼ mile east of Chisholm Trail Road is an almost continuous segment of the Santa Fe Trail. This is located on private property owned by the Scully Estate and access is not allowed. From the air, the sight of this nearly continuous segment of Trail is breathtaking. This image is the aerial photo of the Durham Blow-out, an area that has been deeply eroded where the SFT ascended a hill. William Scully emigrated from Ireland in the late 1800’s and purchased huge tracts of land in Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. Mr. Scully was a progressive agriculturalist. He carefully studied his land and determined the most suitable uses for the land. He determined that this land on which we see the Santa Fe Trail so clearly today was best kept in virgin prairie and used for cattle grazing. Therefore, the land has never been cultivated and is as close to undisturbed prairie as we will find along the Santa Fe Trail. This reach of Trail is truly a national treasure. The land is still held by Mr. Scully’s heirs who are committed to manage the land as is has been historically.

On Diamond Road, north of 250 Road, just south of the railroad tracks can be found a SFT crossing marker.

Swales can sometimes be seen running southwest from the marker. Late in the afternoon and especially in the summer, dramatic swales can be seen on the hill in the distance to the southwest to the right of the windmill in the distance.

On 250th Road, about ¼ mile east of Chisholm Trail Road is a SFT crossing marker.

SFT swales are clearly visible running to the northeast.


On 245th Road, about ¼ mile west of Chisholm Trail Road is a D.A.R. marker and an interpretive plaque at the location of French Frank’s Trail Segment. Running across the land to the southwest are five sets of two parallel swales, apparently created as travelers chose different routes over the years to cross the creek south of the marker. It was here that a French emigrant, Claude Frances Laloge (French Frank), established a road ranch in 1861 at what was known as Cottonwood Holes. The creek is named French Creek in honor of Mr. Laloge, one of the first homesteaders in the area. Cottonwood Holes got its name from the fact that this was the first water that could be found west of the Cottonwood Crossing, and the water was found in small depressions along the creek. Hence, Cottonwood Holes.

The swales on this land are actually the westernmost extension of the Durham Ruts. Southwestward from here, the trail has been obliterated in Marion County by farming operations – well, almost.


On 230th Road, about 0.6 miles west of Bison Road, is a trail crossing sign. The SFT ran south-southwest from the sign across what is now a wheat field formerly owned by George and Sharron Schutte. No sign of the trail - except, in the summer, after wheat harvest when the field is plowed, the location of the trail can be determined. The tractor works harder pulling the plow across the SFT, and the soil turned up created by the plow has a different sheen along the Trail than in the rest of the field.
A few yards north of Hwy 56 at the Marion-McPherson County Line is a large stone marker placed by the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter. It depicts the locations of the Santa Fe Trail and the Chisholm Trail with a generalized map of the area. The monument does not actually mark the location where the two trail crossed. That crossing occurred a few miles to the northeast of the monument.