Santa Fe Trail?

The Santa Fe Trail passed through the Osage Cuestas and was an active trade and miltary trail from the early 1800's to 1880. The introduction of the railroad and the increased momentum of the industrial revolution decreased the trail's activity. In the Osage Cuestas, the trail's use was on the decline during the period between 1868 and 1874, due to the establishment of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad.
Sign for the Battle of Blackjack
Located Within the Osage Cuestas

Why Does This Matter?

The Santa Fe Trail in the Osage Cuestas was significant because it was near the beginning of the trail. The trail began in Missouri, near the Missouri River, and traveled west through Kansas with two options to reach Santa Fe; either farther west through Colorado or straight south to New Mexico.

The most important factor in the decision of which path to follow on the trail was the amount of water on the path. The Osage Cuestas always had abundant water, but the problem was that water was not always as plentiful farther west. If the year was wet, or a trader was a gambling man, he would take his chances on the Cimmarron route, or the "dry" route. This path was weeks shorter, but also short on water. If the year was dry, or the trader wanted to play things safe, the "mountain" route was taken. This took one weeks out of the way, but had reliable water throughout the trip.

The Oregon Trail and the Osage Trail have a cut-off in this region that is in west Johnson county.
Santa Fe Trail Map
Santa Fe Trail Research

Santa Fe Trading

The Santa Fe Trail was used for trading goods, but many didn't make it past the cuestas to the Flint Hills. Lack of water, harsh weather, and disease are just a few of the reasons that caused a hindrance in their travels. The trail can still be followed today and the ruts are still preserved very well in some areas.

Some of the more popular stores on the trail in the Osage Cuestas include stopping in the town of Burlingame and Diamond Springs. Burlingame has a rich history of being a trading stop along the way. Diamond Springs was used for a rest stop for travelers and considered very important because this stop provide fresh clean water.

Santa Fe Trail Ruts
Located Near Wilmington, KS
Notice how much the trail has disappeared over time
Within the Osage Cuestas