"The storm burst, and the o’er charged sky poured fourth its torrent over the grassy plains.
The wind increased to a hurricane, and drove the falling rain almost horizontally before it."
— Matt Field, near Cheyenne Bottoms, 1839
A few of the many sites within the Quivira Chapter are listed below. Click here to download a full copy of the Quivira Chapter auto tour brochure.
ED MILLER'S GRAVE - East of Canton near the center of the Jones Cemetery (also known as East Fairview Cemetery) is the black marble gravestone of Ed Miller who, according to the inscription, was killed by the Cheyenne Indians in 1864. He is thought to have been the last white man killed by Cheyenne Indians in 1864. He is thought to have been the last white man killed by Indians in this part of Kansas. Back-to-back with the gravestone is a stone Santa Fe Trail marker placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1906 to mark the Santa Fe Trail.
Click to learn more: The Ed Miller Story
(courtesy Wagon Tracks, 2002).
FULLER'S RANCH - In 1855, Charles O. Fuller established a ranch adjacent to the Big Turkey Crossing and provided accommodations for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. This was probably the first white settlement in McPherson County. A post office named Big Turkey was located in the bend of the creek as shown in the 1884 McPherson County Atlas. In 1965, a monument was erected to mark the approximate location of Fuller's Ranch.
KAW INDIAN PEACE TREATY SITE - The Quivira Chapter is currently working on a project to better interpret this important site. In the NE/4, section 28, T20S, R3W, just South of Comanche Road and west of the bridge is a place on Dry Turkey creek (once called Sora Kansas creek) where the United States Commissioners, while surveying the trail, met the chiefs of the Kansa Indians in council on the 16th day of August, 1825 under a large spreading oak in a small grove of trees. This was the only grove of trees seen for miles. In exchange for $800 in money and merchandise, the Indians promised their goodwill and right-of-way for travelers on the Trail. Just north of Comanche Road, between 14th and 15th Avenues, and East of the Creek is a marker that was placed in 1907 by George Martin, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society. It was placed on the North side of the road for convenience, even though he had discovered through historical documents that the actually treaty site was west of the creek and south of the road. In 1907, this was just a dirt road. It was later built up and the creek was straightened out with the building of the bridge. The D.A.R. marker now at the Old 81 Highway roadside park was also dedicated next to this little marker in 1907.
HISTORICAL HIGHWAY MARKER - At the southeast edge of the town of Elyria, on Highway 81, a Kansas historical marker describes the Kaw Indian Peace Treaty (see the section above). Also, in this area is the old town site of King City, which was located at the southwest edge of Elyria. When the Santa Fe Railroad was built further north in 1879, many of King City's buildings were moved to nearby McPherson.
LITTLE ARKANSAS RIVER CROSSING - At the Little River crossing, less than a mile over McPherson County's west line into Rice County, is a major point of interest on the Santa Fe Trail. Still visible when the water is low are the stones that were laid in the river bed for the wagons to cross on while fording the stream. The huge, forked, still-living cottonwood tree at the crossing's east bank may have been a reference point in locating the river crossing. About 1000 feet south of the crossing, on the west side of the river, was located the long since dismantled Stone Corral, a 200 x 300 foot stone enclosure that provided accommodations and protection for travelers. Also in the area are the “Depressions” - what are left of dugouts along the river bank where soldiers protecting the trail lived. Three stone Santa Fe Trail markers and trail ruts are in the general vicinity.
STONE CORRAL – (See section above) All signs of the corral are gone, but this 200 x 300 foot stone enclosure, having walls 8 feet high and 30 inches thick, was an overnight camping spot for trail travelers. There was a trading post here, and military troops were stationed here in 1865 and 1867.
Click on the link below to learn more:
The Ranch at Little Arkansas Crossing (Courtesy the Kansas State Historical Society)
CHÀVEZ MURDER SITE
Santa Fe trader Don Antonio José Chávez was the victim of Missouri ruffians in 1843. The international incident occurred where Owl Creek crossed the Santa Fe Trail near the present city of Lyons, Kansas.
COW CREEK CROSSING - This crossing was adjacent to the south side of the present bridge one mile south of the Father Padilla Cross. There was a toll bridge about 150 yards upstream during the 1860s. About 150 yards above the post, the creek was spanned by a bridge 8 feet wide and 30 feet long. William Mathewson, the original “Buffalo Bill,” established a trading post near the Cow Creek Crossing in 1853. In 1860, he hunted buffalo to supply meat to settlers of Eastern Kansas whose cattle herds had been reduced by droughts in 1859 and 1860. This area was also known as Beach Valley. Dr. Asahel Beach and his son, Abijah, established a supply ranche (trading post) here in the 1850s.
Click on the link below to learn more:
The Ranch at Cow Creek Crossing (Courtesy the Kansas State Historical Society)
BUFFALO BILL MATHEWSON'S WELL - Perhaps the best-known surviving feature of the Cow Creek Crossing area is Buffalo Bill's hand-dug well. The well, with a DAR marker to the north of it, is still there.
Click on the links below to learn more about William “Buffalo Bill” Mathewson:
http://www.kshs.org/portraits/mathewson_william_e.htm (Courtesy the Kansas State Historical Society)
RALPH'S RUTS - These are among the most prominent Santa Fe Trail ruts to be found anywhere. They have become known among trail buffs as “Ralph's Ruts,” after their owner, Ralph Hathaway. This is the farm on which Ralph’s grandparents, John L. and Mary E. Hathaway, filed a homestead claim in 1878. While breaking sod on the northeast forty acres of this quarter, John and his sons plowed up a pistol, a watch, pieces of hardware from burned out wagons, and bits of broken ironstone china—grim evidence of the notorious Plum Buttes Massacre. Nearby is "Gunsight Notch," where the Santa Fe Trail cut through the Plum Buttes.
Gun Sight Notch
ELLINWOOD – THE BIG BEND OF THE ARKANSAS – This trading post sat on what is not the west edge of the town of Ellinwood Kansas. The trading post was owned by a series of owners, most notably, William Mathewson, the original Buffalo Bill, who set up shop here in 1862. This same location was a camping spot for the Arkansas River camp site of the Santa Fe Trail. On October 2, 1869, according to military reports, Indians attacked the ranch near Ellinwood and drove off stock.
Click on the link below to learn more:
The Ranch at the Great Bend by Louise Barry (courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society)
WALNUT CREEK CROSSING - In the summer of 1855, William Allison and Francis Boothe, established a Santa Fe Trail trading post at Walnut Creek Crossing. The site was about 100 yards from the crossing of Walnut Creek, on the east side of the creek, and the north side of the Santa Fe road. This “ranche” was a large building made of logs. It was the first attempt at building by citizens made west of Council Grove. The Walnut Creek Crossing had several owners. In September 1857, Mr. Boothe was murdered by a Mexican. In April of 1859, Allison had gone to Missouri and died suddenly of heart failure. George Peacock, of Independence, Missouri, was Allison’s successor. In September 1860, George Peacock was killed by a Kiowa chief name Santank. Charles Rath took over Walnut Creek Ranch within a matter of weeks after Peacock’s death. Rath’s tenure as post trader at Fort Zarah (see below) ended in 1867, and a successor named Joseph W. Douglas held the business until the store was burned down on May 19, 1868, by a party of Arapaho and Cheyennes.
Click on the links below to learn more:
FORT ZARAH- Fort Zarah was established at the junction of the Santa Fe Trail and the Smoky Hill Military Road, near Walnut Creek. In May 1864, Captain Dunlap and Company H, 15th Kansas, camped at the ranche on Walnut Creek, and established Fort Dunlap. On July 28, 1864, General Curtis renamed Fort Dunlap Fort Zarah in honor of his son, Zarah Curtis, killed by Quantrill’s Raiders at Baxter Springs, Kansas, October 6, 1863. The first fort was abandoned April 7, 1866, and reestablished with new stone buildings on June 30, 1866. This second fort lasted until it was abandoned in December 1869.
PAWNEE ROCK - Pawnee Rock was a well-known Trail landmark. It is an outcropping of Dakota sandstone, named for a battle with the Pawnee Indians. Many travelers carved their names in the rock. In Trail days, Pawnee Rock was nearly 30 feet higher than it is today; however, a large amount of rock was removed for railroad and home construction.
Click on the links below to learn more about Pawnee Rock:
Pawnee Rock State Historic Site History
Anyone interested in the Santa Fe Trail is welcome to join. Membership in the Quivira Chapter is just $10 per year for individuals or families.