The Kansas Historical Society recently placed six Santa Fe Trail locations in Kansas on the National Register of Historic Places. With the addition of these sites in Marion and Morton counties, the state now has 1,310 registered historic sites.
Thirty properties were nominated for the Santa Fe Trail project, and these six were the first to be approved by the National Park Service.
The 1,200-mile Santa Fe Trail stretched from Missouri across Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma into New Mexico. The historical society says that before 1846, it served mainly as a trade route between the Missouri and Rio Grande rivers.
The Santa Fe Trail differed from the Oregon, California, Mormon, and other trails which served as highways for emigrants bound for new homes in the far West. The bulk of traffic along the Santa Fe Trail, especially prior to 1846, consisted of civilian traders – Hispanic and American – with some military traffic and few emigrants.
Five of the segments added to the National Register lie in the Cimarron National Grassland in Morton County. Travel over this portion of the trail began in 1822 and ended with the arrival of the railroad at the short-lived town of Sheridan, Kan., in 1868 . These trail segments are closely related to nearby Point of Rocks and Middle Spring, which was the next reliable water source west of the Lower Cimarron (or Wagon Bed) Spring.
The sixth is French Frank's Ranch in Marion County. The former ranch was established in 1861 by French immigrants Claude Francis (French Frank) Laloge and Peter Martin. The list of provisions Laloge purchased and his previous experience support the idea that French Frank’s Ranch offered meals and small provisions to trail travelers.