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.