For those Santa Fe caravans that took the Cimarron Route, their passage through the grasslands of what is today’s Oklahoma Panhandle was dictated by the scarcity of water. The Cimarron River, which gives the route its name, flows through southwestern Kansas and northwestern Oklahoma. It was one of the principal sources of water on the otherwise dry “waterscrape” section of the Trail that began once caravans had crossed the Arkansas River on the Cimarron Route. With poor grass and scant water, the sandy Cimarron River, as well as infrequent oases like Cold Spring and Flag Spring, defined the landscape as one of the most risky sections of the entire Trail. Artist Wayne Cooper’s painting on the banner of our Cimarron Cutoff chapter page portrays the crossing of the Cimarron River at the Willow Bar crossing. For much of its length, the Cimarron was often without visible water, but it could frequently be found by intrepid travelers who were willing to dig in its sandy bed.
The Cimarron Route through Oklahoma also passes by the rock fortifications of Camp Nichols, built in 1865 by Colonel Kit Carson to help protect caravans from Indian raids—another peril that made this section of the Cimarron Route one that travelers seldom looked forward to.
What is a Chapter? A Santa Fe Trail Association (SFTA) chapter is a regional representative of the Santa Fe Trail Association, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting, and educating the public about the historic Santa Fe Trail. The Santa Fe Trail was a significant trade route that connected Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the 19th century, playing a crucial role in the westward expansion of the United States. These chapters are geographically dispersed, often covering specific regions along the Santa Fe Trail or areas with a strong historical connection to the trail.
Why join a Chapter? One of the primary goals of the Santa Fe Trail Association is to preserve the historical sites, landmarks, and traditions associated with the Santa Fe Trail. Local chapters play a crucial role in this effort by focusing on the preservation and education of their specific areas. They may undertake projects to restore and maintain trail-related sites, host educational programs, and engage with their communities to raise awareness about the trail's significance. Joining a local chapter is important to the Santa Fe Trail Association because it allows for a more focused and localized approach to preserving and promoting the historical significance of the Santa Fe Trail. These chapters are instrumental in carrying out the association's mission on a grassroots level and connecting with communities along the trail, ultimately contributing to the broader efforts to preserve this vital part of American history.
Which Chapter do I Join? The Santa Fe Trail Association has many state chapters including Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Click below to learn more and join one or more chapters!