Brief Summary of the Santa Fe Trail

through Kansas,


Committee Appointed to Prepare a Correct Map.

Reprinted from the Eighteenth Biennial Report

of the Kansas State Historical Society



Report of Committee Appointed to Prepare a Correct Map of the Old Santa Fe Trail Across the State of Kansas.

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Appointed to Prepare a Correct Map of the Old Santa Fe Trail

Across the State of Kansas

Since the project started for the improvement of a National Old Trails Road Ocean to Ocean Highway, there has been much inquiry about the route followed by the old Santa Fe trail across the state of Kansas. This is natural, for it would be the central and most important link in such a national highway, and the entire country, as well as Kansas, has always been interested in this wonderful overland route across the state. Certain road improvement associations have been circulating maps of proposed state and national roads across Kansas, and have marked one of them "The Old Santa Fe Trail," and made it follow a new course entirely, touching points which were not within miles of the trail as it ran up to the year 1860. While the Historical Society of Kansas is in full accord with the good roads movement, it must protest against anything which tends to destroy the truth of history. Therefore, at the thirty-seventh annual meeting of the Society the trail matter was fully discussed, the subject being introduced by George P. Morehouse in a paper upon the removal of "Ancient Landmarks." This matter was deemed of such importance that a committee was appointed to prepare, under the authority of the Society, a map showing the true and historic route of the old Santa Fe trail across the state, and to accompany the map with such explanatory notes as seemed wise, thereby establishing a positive record for the use of future historical students.

The map herewith presented outlines the course of the Santa Fe trail during its heroic and most interesting period. It is compiled from the priceless records and maps belonging to our Society, substantiated by statements of old settlers and soldiers, freighters and plainsmen still living, and upon the authority of present-day writers and historians, who have given the matter the closest attention and study. The map was drawn by Geo. A. Root, of the Historical Society. The marking of the old Santa Fe trail a few years ago by this Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the School children of Kansas caused every mile of its course to be discussed. In every county and neighborhood scarred by its ruts and ridges numerous well-informed people took great interest in placing the granite monuments, hoping to preserve the true course of the trail to posterity.

The map shows several modern Kansas towns and places, along or near the marked line of the trail, which had no existence during "trail days," but they are given to identify its course with present- day geography. On a map of this scale it is impossible to designate the trail as exactly as could be done on a larger one, and for closer work our Society has numerous sectional maps of the trail counties, showing to a fraction of a mile

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the road and its minor variations. It must also be remembered that in some places, for a few miles, there were two or more lines of travel, and these lines might be a mile or two, or even more, apart. Wet or dry weather, heavy or light loads, danger or not from Indian attacks, would determine which road was to be used. So much interesting history has been written regarding the Santa Fe trail that we can only make a few further statements which will add to the usefulness of the map. While there were several early trading expeditions from different places to Santa Fe between the years 1804 and 1820, the expeditions that went out from Franklin, Mo., mark the beginning of the important history of the Santa Fe trade.

For about ten years subsequent to 1821 Franklin was the Missouri river point where caravans of pack animals, and Inter wagon trains, outfitted for their long journey across the plains. During the years from 1825 to 1827 the United States government surveyed the road from the Missouri river to near Santa Fe, N. M., starting the survey from old Fort Osage, now Sibley, Jackson county, Mo. This surveyed line, in the main, became the route as principally used for many years and as marked on the map herewith published. Our Society is the fortunate possessor of the manuscript field notes with distances, of this early survey.

The most important difference between the government survey of 1825 and the trail as principally used was the point of departure from the Arkansas river to reach the Cimarron river. The government survey, while mentioning the shorter southwest route, or cut-off, to the Cimarron, ran its line up the Arkansas to Chouteau island (near the present Hartland, Gray county), and thence due south to the Cimarron. Notwithstanding the dangers of the desert and increased dangers from Indians, the freighters usually preferred to follow one side of a triangle rather than two sides, and so the route south from Chouteau island was never popular.

Early in the trail trade, expeditions ascended the Arkansas to the vicinity of the present LaJunta, Colo., and from there traveled over the plains and mountains to Taos and on to Santa Fe. This route of the upper Arkansas was used even after the Cimarron cut-off across the desert was well established. Bent's Fort was the principal stopping place. The California line of the Santa Fe Railway practically represents the course of the trail along the river and through the present towns of La Junta, Trinidad, Raton, etc. About the year 1827 trading posts were established in Missouri at Fort Osage, Blue Mills, and Independence. Blue Mills was a few miles below Independence, hut the latter soon became the recognized American headquarters of the overland trade to Mexico, the bulk of which it held until the Mexican war in 1846. Independence being over one hundred miles further west than old Franklin and nearer the great bend of the Missouri river, was a far better place for the exchange of traffic between Steamboats and wagons. It was easier to travel between these points by water than by land.

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About 1840 the town of Westport, three or four miles south of the junction of the Kansas and Missouri rivers and Westport Landing (Kansas City, Mo.) became rivals of Independence. and by 1848 had absorbed most of the Santa Fe trade, becoming the exchange center between the river and trail business.

The California emigration, 1849-50, gave added importance to Westport, as fully half of the thousands of emigrants of those years out fitted there, and their caravans followed the Santa Fe trail part of the way westward. The outfitting business continued to grow until one Westport trading company had increased its business from 600 wagons, outfitted in 1853, to 2200 wagons in 1859.

For some years after the Mexican war the United States government ordered military stores for the southwest to be shipped from Fort Leavenworth. This route came over the hills and crossed the Kansas river at Toulee's ferry, above the present Argentine. It joined the main Santa Fe road from Westport near Lenexa, in Johnson county. Being rough and unpopular and with the troublesome Kansas river crossing, the government finally allowed the United States stores to be unloaded at the Westport landing, to save time, danger and expense to freighters At the beginning of the Civil War the Santa Fe trade from Westport almost stopped, and Fort Leavenworth, Atchison and Nebraska City became the initial points of the traffic.. During some of these diversions of the trade from its established route, portions of it passed through towns not on the main or regular route from the Missouri river to Santa Fe. This has led some to think that the trail passed through certain towns in eastern Kansas which were never considered on the famous old road at all, either by the old timers and freighters of that day or the historians and students of the present.

As the trail left the Missouri river at different places at different times_Old Franklin, Fort Osage (Sibley), Independence, Westport Landing (Kansas City)_there were several branches of the road in Johnson county, Kansas, as well as in Missouri. But from whatever place the traffic started, these several roads all reached a common point in the northeastern part of Johnson county, and from there onward followed a common way. Nature selected that route, it being the line of least resistance. It kept to the highlands and headed the streams when possible. From Westport to the Cimarron crossing of the Arkansas it crossed but few streams of consequence, and so there was little delay from high water. Appended herewith is a summary of the trail through Kansas, together with tables of places and distances as known and published at different periods of the trail traffic. The interesting field notes of Joseph C. Brown, the civil engineer of the government expedition of 1821- 1827, are here published for the first time.

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These tables and field notes, together with the map and other data given herewith, present a plain record, which should establish and preserve forever the historic course of that famous overland highway known as the old Santa Fe trail.

JOHN E. FROST, Chairman,


TOPEKA, KAN., January 18, 1913.



The different Missouri river branches of the trail, whether from old Franklin, Fort Osage (Sibley), Independence, Westport, or Kansas City, came together in the northeast part of Johnson county, and by one common course passed out of the county near its southwest corner. An early course of the road entered the county and state just nine miles due south of the mouth of the Kansas river and east of the village of Glenn. The line from Westport passed near the old Shawnee Mission. From near Lenexa the trails passed over one route southwest through Olathe and Gardner, across Bull creek and into Douglas county. The junction of the Oregon and California trails was near the present town of Gardner, and at one time there stood at this point an old guidepost which bore the legend: "Road to Oregon."


The trail entered Douglas county near its southeast corner, a few miles east of Black Jack, from where it took a northwesterly course through Palmyra and on to Willow Springs. Here it turned to the southwest, passing close to Globe and Baden of later days and into Osage county about three miles north of the southwest corner of Douglas county. Palmyra, which later became a part of Baldwin, was long a favorite place for repairing wagons and for rest. Willow Springs, about seven miles to the northwest of Palmyra, was also a favorite place and had a thrilling territorial history.


In passing westerly through Osage county, a distance of twenty-four miles, the trail dropped only one mile south, entering from Douglas county at section 3-15-17; thence to Flag Spring and almost due west along the natural divide for ten or more miles, passing where the town of Overbrook now stands and on to 110 creek crossing, in Section 12- 15-15. From this place it ran westward, passing within a mile south of the present Scranton to the present location of Burlingame, where it crossed Switzler creek This was the location of the Council City of territorial

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days. For a mile through Burlingame, Santa Fe avenue represents the course of the trail. After crossing Dragoon creek its course took it through the old town of Wilmington, In the southeast corner of Wabaunsee county.


Entering the county of Lyon near the northeast corner, the trail crossed the county, dropping about five miles south of a westerly course. Waushara, on Chicken creek; Elm creek; the crossing of 142 creek, and Agnes City, on Bluff creek, were stopping places of more or less importance at different times. In Lyon county the main line of the Missouri Pacific railway is from three to six miles south of the old trail.


The trail entered Morris county about seven miles east of Council Grove, and in crossing the county dropped south just six miles. A short distance east of Council Grove it crossed Big John creek and ran close by the "Big John Spring," now in Fremont park, where at one time were numerous stones bearing inscriptions, names and dates. Council Grove was the most noted stopping place between the Missouri river and Santa Fe. Here the treaty with the Osage Indians was made, August 10, 1825, for right of way of the trail across the plains, and for years it was the last chance to obtain supplies. Its Main street, on both sides of the Neosho, marks the course of the trail. From Council Grove for several miles there were two routes, one along the high divide to the north of Elm creek, and the other passing up the valley of said creek, the two roads uniting a mile or two southeast of the present town of Wilsey. From Council Grove the trail passed westward, close to Helmick and Wilsey of to-day, thence directly north of the "Morehouse ranche" pastures and through Sections 33 and 34, township 17, range 6, of the adjoining "Diamond Spring" or "Whiting ranche," where the famous prairie fountain, "The Diamond of the Plain," still flows. This is about four miles north of the present village of Diamond Springs, on the A. T. & S. F. railway. The trail passed about three miles north of Burdick and entered Marion county some six miles south of the present Herington, Dickinson county.


The trail entered Marion county at the east side of section 12-17-4,a mile and a quarter south of the northeast corner of the county. Its first place of note was the well-known "Lost Spring," situated about two miles west of the present town of Lost Springs and fifteen miles due north of the present town of Marion. This spring is at the head of Lyons creek, a tributary of the Kansas river. From here the road passed in a westerly direction near the sites of the present towns of Ramona and Tampa, dropping southwesterly to the Cottonwood crossing, near what is now the town of Durham (at one time "Moore's ranche"); continuing southwest, it passed out of the county at a point directly east of the present town of Canton, McPherson county.

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The survey of the trail between "Diamond of the Plain" and Cotton wood Crossing passed two or three miles south of the route as used, and thus crossed several creeks in Morris and Marion counties, which the upper route avoided by following the watershed between the Kansas and Cottonwood rivers.


Entering the county midway of its eastern boundary, just east of the present Canton, the trail bore slightly southwest, crossing Running Turkey, Spring, and Dry Turkey creeks and passing out of the county some miles south of the present town of Windom. On section 21-20-3, about five miles south of the present city of McPherson, 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.* A monument to commemorate the event has been erected near the spot.


Through Rice county the trail passed almost east and west through the center. Entering at the east side of section 13-20-6, it crossed the Little Arkansas at the noted Stone Corral and breastworks thence ran west, passing less than a mile south of the present city of Lyons; crossing Jarvis creek and Big and Little Cow creeks it passed out of the County at section 31-19-10 into Barton county. About three miles west of the present Lyons, close to the trail, are the "rifle pits" and "Buffalo Bill's well."


Entering Barton county the trail ran due west five miles to the present Ellinwood, where it first came to the Arkansas river. Following the river, it passed Fort Zarah, located near the crossing of Walnut creek. From here the trail rounded the north or great bend of the Arkansas, turning southwest near the present town of Great Bend, and passing out of the county close to that famous "Rock Point," afterward known as "Pawnee Rock."


The trail passed through the present Larned and old Fort Larned reservation, crossing the Pawnee river. From this point to Fort Dodge, in Ford county, there were two routes, one following closer to the Arkansas river and touching Big Coon creek near the present Garfield; the other passing Fort Larned and running southwest, sometimes at a distance of ten miles from the Arkansas river.

* The Historical Society has in its manuscript collections the Kansas Indian copy or the treaty which was drawn at this council. The treaty is signed by the commissioners of the survey, B. H. Reeves, G. C. Sibley and Thomas Mather, on the part of the United States and Son-ja-inga, principal chief of the Kansas, and nine of his warriors, on the part of the Indians. For the right of way and the good will of the Kansas Indians towards travelers over the trail, the United States was to pay the Indians the sum of $800 in merchandise or money. This manuscript was given to the Society in 1886 by Mahlon Stubbs, who was United Slates agent to the Kansas Indians.

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Through Edwards county the trail followed two main routes. The oldest, or river route, kept between the Arkansas river and the parallel stream of Big Coon creek (formerly Clear creek), and passing by the present sites of Nettleton and Kinsley. The other route kept from four to six miles from the river, crossing Little Coon creek about three miles west of Kinsley at the old Battle Ground, and passing out of the county about a mile south of the present village of Offerle.


The trail entered Ford county from the northeast by two routes; the lower route followed the north side of the Arkansas, while the upper route entered the county about eight miles north of the river. These two lines came together near Fort Dodge, and then followed along the north side of the river, through the present site of Dodge City and near the "Caches," five miles west, entering Gray county just north of the Arkansas. There was another route of the trail in this county which was sometimes used, known as the Lower crossing. It crossed the Arkansas river near the mouth of Mulberry creek, and following up the creek, ran to the southwest. This trail was not safe in dry weather, there being few living streams near it.


The old trail, as first surveyed through this region in 1825, was the route along the north side of the Arkansas river. This was the road unless wagon trains took the shorter but more dangerous Cimarron cutoff. The river route passed by the sites of the present towns of Wettick, Cimarron, Ingalls, and Charleston. The branch known as the Cimarron route crossed the Arkansas river near the present town of Cimarron at a place known for years as the "Cimarron crossing." It was so named because it was the shortest and most frequented way to the river of that name. It was sometimes called the "Middle crossing," to distinguish it from the "Lower crossing" near Mulberry creek junction, and the "Upper crossing" near Chouteau Island. The Cimarron crossing and route was generally used after 1830, except during the dryest seasons or when the Indians were especially dangerous. It passed southwest into Haskell county of to-day, and was by far the shortest road to Santa Fe.


The Cimarron branch of the trail entered Haskell county near the northeast corner and passed southwest between the present Ivanhoe and Santa Fe, and out of the county midway of its western border. Wild Horse lake was to the north of the trail, but there were no important stopping places along its twenty-seven-mile course in the county.


The trail entered Grant county midway of its eastern boundary, and continuing its southwesterly course, crossed the North Fork of the Cimarron river and passed on to the well-known "Lower Spring," later known as the "Wagon Bed Spring," on the main Cimarron river. This stopping place was in the extreme south part of the county, near the present Zion-

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ville, and was the point on the Cimarron to which the caravans headed when they had followed the trail, as surveyed in 1825, up the Arkansas river to Chouteau Island (near the present Hartland, Kearny county), and there turned directly south. This route up the river was considered safer, the water spots not being so far apart, but it was not used much after 1830, the route to and from the Cimarron crossing of the Arkansas being so much shorter.


Through Stevens county the trail paralleled the Cimarron river in its course through the northwest part of the county, but there were no important camping places. In following up the Cimarron to the southwest the trail sometimes kept fairly close to the river, but at times was several miles away; hence there were really two routes-the "river" and the "upland."


Morton county has some thirty miles of the old trail within its borders. Entering the county about eight miles south of its northeast corner, the trail followed up the Cimarron and passed out of the county and state at a point about seven miles north of the southwest corner. The "Middle Spring" of the Cimarron route was in this county, not far from a noted place and landmark known as "Point of Rocks," this point being on the southeast quarter, section 12-34-43. There was also another "Point of Rocks" known in trail days, about 130 miles further on, in New Mexico. The Cimarron route of the Santa Fe trail, after leaving the present boundaries of Kansas, followed up the Cimarron river, first on one side of the stream and then on the other, through the present states of Colorado and Oklahoma, for a distance of some sixty or sixty- five miles, when it entered the northeast corner of New Mexico.


This route of the trail followed up the north side of the Arkansas river from the Cimarron crossing, through the counties of Gray, Finney, Kearny and Hamilton, and is to-day represented by the main line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway. It was used by those desiring to stop at Bent's Fort, in Colorado, or go on to Santa Fe via Trinidad, Raton Pass, etc. Through Finney county the trail touched the sites of the present towns of Pierceville, Garden City and Holcomb, but during trail days there was only one place of historic importance. The United States government survey in 1825 crossed the Arkansas river to the south side at a point about seven miles up the river from the present Garden City and not far from Holcomb of to- day. From this crossing, carefully described in the survey, the trail followed south of the river to Chouteau Island where it turned due south to the "Lower Spring" of the Cimarron.


The Upper Arkansas river branch of the trail followed north of that river through Kearny county. Chouteau Island_near the present town of Hartland_was a place of historic importance. It was to this point that the disastrous expedition of Chouteau (1815-1817) retreated and successfully resisted a Comanche attack. Here too the Santa Fe trail, as surveyed

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by the United States government in 1825, turned due south to the "Lower Spring" (Wagon Bed Spring) of the Cimarron. This route was sometimes called the "Aubrey route," Since Francois X. Aubrey was known to have partially followed it on at least one of his famous rides between Santa Fe and Independence during the years 1850 to 1852. It was a much better watered route than the one by way of Cimarron crossing.


The line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway represents the route of the old trail through the present towns of Kendall, Mayline, Syracuse, and Coolidge. Four miles east of where Syracuse now stands is a spring discovered by the famous French- Canadian scout Aubrey. The United States government established Fort Aubrey here in 1865, but it was abandoned within a year. The trail passed out of the county and the state near the present town of Coolidge, and ran on up the river to where it turned southwest to Santa Fe via Trinidad and the Raton Pass.


From Wetmore's Gazetteer of the State of Missouri, 1837, page 269, the following table of distances is taken:



To Camp Grove                                                      16 
Big Blue river ford                                                20  
Round Grove                                                        14 
20 Left-hand Grove                                                 18 
Right-hand Grove                                                   18
Elk Creek                                                           5
Marie des Cignes                                                   11
Rock Creek                                                          5 
Prairie Camp                                                       13 
Indian Camp                                                         9 
High-Water Creek                                                   15 
Council Grove on the Neosho                                         8
Plain Creek                                                         5 
Diamond Spring                                                      8 
Prairie Spring                                                      8
Hook's Spring (in prairie)                                          8 
Cottonwood Grove                                                   13
Lake Camp                                                          18
Small Creek                                                        20 
Little Arkansas                                                    18 
Branch of Cow Creek                                                12
Main Cow Creek                                                     13 
Arkansas river                                                     15 
Walnut Creek (up the Arkansas),                                    20
Ash Creek                                                          24 
Pawnee Fork of Arkansas                                             8
Plain Camp                                                         15 
Little Pond                                                        21
Small Drain                                                        20 
Anderson's Caches on the Arkansas                                  20 
Pond Camp west of Arkansas river,                                   7 
The Two Ponds                                                      22 
Several Ponds                                                      19
The Lake                                                           12
Sandy Creek                                                        12
To Lone Pond                                                       14
Small Pond                                                         22
The Semiron                                                         8
The Lower Spring                                                    2
Salt Camp                                                           8
Nitre Camp                                                         21
The Willows                                                         7 
Saltpeter Camp in view of Sugar House Mound                        10
Upper Semiron Spring                                               10
Seven Mile Creek                                                    7
Drain Camp                                                          8
Two Pools                                                          17
Rocky Pool                                                          8
Sugar Loaf                                                          5
Kiowa Camp                                                         10 
Sabine Camp                                                        15
Round Mound                                                         4
Rocky Branch                                                       12 
Summit Level, in view of Rocky Mountains                            8 
Hart's Camp                                                         6
Point of Rocks                                                     10
Deep Hollow                                                         7 
Canadian Fork                                                      15
Mule Creek                                                          6
Pilot Knobs                                                        19
Tar Kiln Grove                                                     20
El Moro                                                            10
El Sapiote                                                          2
Rio Las Guienas                                                    18
San Magil (village)                                                25
Santa Fe                                                           40            
                                    total                         897 
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                         Field Notes by Joseph C. Brown,
                       United States Surveying Expedition


Miles.  Chns.   Miles.   Chns.
          747     73       Beginning.
 7    7   740     66       Little Blue creek 100 links   wide and runs northward
[9]                        [Independence, nine miles southwest from crossing of
19   18                    Little Blue and ten miles northeast of crossing of
26   25   721     48       Big Blue creek, 100 links wide and runs northward l
                           Ford shallow and gravelly. The camping is here good.
                           Immediately west of this creek bottom begins the
                           prairie which extends to mountains near Santa Fe.
31   03   716     70       Western boundary of state of Missouri, crosses it just
8    40                    nine miles south of the mouth of the Kansas river.
89   43   708     30       Flat Rock creek [a branch of the Big Blue, south of
                           Lenexa], 30 links wide, runs southward into Big
9    27                    Blue. The ford is good and the camping good for wood,
                           water and grass.
48   70   699     03       Caravan creek [Cedar  creek? -- tributary of Kansas
                           river, 2 miles from Olathe, runs north], 30 links
                           wide, runs northward and is a tributary of Kansas
13   62                    At this place, called Caravan Grove, is excellent
                           camping ground and plenty of timber for
62   52   685     21       Hungry creek [head branch Coal creek, tributary
                           Wakarusa] is small and runs northward It affords
1    57                    some pretty groves and good land and water. The ford
                           is pretty good.
64   29   683     44       Dove creek [head branch Coal creek, tributary
                           Wakarusa], at the "Four Oaks." This creek is small and
1    21                    runs northward. The water is good, some small groves,
                           and land from Hungry creek to it good
65   50   682     23       Gooseberry creek [head branch Coal creek, tributary
                           Wakarusa], 25 links wide, runs northward. This
1    68                    creek affords good water, pasture and wood, and the
                           ford is good.
67   38   680     35       Grindstone creek [bead branch Coal creek, tributary
                           Wakarusa], 30 links wide, runs northward. Here
2    45                    are good camping places, water, wood and pasture good,
                           and plenty. This creek affords some excellent timbered
70   03   677     70       Muddy Branch of Cut off [Ottawa creek] crossing bears
70   69   677     04       Cut off crossing Osage, water, ford good, and water
3    43                    and fuel plenty. 
74   32   673     41       Big Cut off crossing [branch of Ottawa creek], 30
                           links wide runs south'd. It is a pretty creek and
                           affords some pretty groves At the ford, which is
2    55                    very good, is good camping grounds for waters pasture,
                           shade and fuel.
77   07   670     66       A small branch of Big Cut off, very little timber
9    30                    on it.
86   37   661     36       Mule creek [a branch of Wakarusa-Flag Springsl small,
                           runs north'd and has no timber near the road. Down the
                           creek at about 1 mile is a little timber
11   46                    and southward at about 2 or 3 miles distance is some
			   timber on the waters of the Marias de Cygne which is 
			   the principal fork of the Osage river
98   03   649     70       Oak creek [110 Creek crossings 50 links wide, bears
                           southeast, is a branch of the Marias de Cygne This
                           creek affords good waters pasture fuel and
7    52                    good above and below are to be seen some considerable
                           groves of timber. The land on it is very good. In
                           these groves honey is to be found
05   55   642     18       Bridge creek [Switzler's creek near Burlingame], 100
                           links wide, runs southeast. It affords good water
                           tither and grass. The bed of this creek is muddy
2    05                    and must of necessity be bridged. Timber is
                           convenient, and no better crossing is to be found near
                           the road.

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page 15

From FT. OSAGE.  FROM Taos.

miles.    Chns.   Miles.   Chns.

176  26   571     47       Duck creek [east branch of Muddy or Luta creek this
                           point is about three miles south of Lost
8    72                    Springs and a noted stopping place on the trail] 20
                           links wide and runs southwest. Plenty of water and
                           pretty good grass, but no wood near.
180  18   567     55       High Bank creek [west branch of Muddy or Luta creek],
                           20 links wide, runs southward Has no
7    18                    timber, and the banks being high makes it rather bad
                           to cross. Plenty of water and tolerable grass.
187  18   560     55       Cottonwood fork of Neozho [Cottonwood river near
                           Durham], 50 links wide and in places 100 links 'tis
                           the last water of the Neozho which the road crosses.
                           Here is plenty of wood, and water and the grass is
                           tolerable. No other wood will be found on the road
                           after this until at the Little
19   63                    Arkansas, and commonly no water before Indian creek.
                           About ten miles on the road, in the head of a hollow
                           south of the road and near it, water -may be had; the
                           hollow bears southward. The road is over high level
                           land and is sufficiently beaten and plain.
207  01   540     72       Indian creek [branch of Turkey creek, McPherson
                           county], 10 links wide, runs southwestwardly. Affords
                           good water find grass, but no fuel. From the higher
                           parts of the prairie hereabout the sand hills appear
                           west of Little Arkansas. Sora Kansas creek, 10 links,
                           bears southward. About three
7    66                    miles south of the ford is a grove of timber on this
                           creek, and at the upper timber it may be crossed, but
                           generally the crossing south of the ford would be bad.
                           At this grove the commissioners met the Kansas chiefs
                           in council on the 16th of August, 1825. [A few miles
                           south of Me Pherson.]
214  67   533     06       From the Sora Kansas creek [branch of Turkey creek,
                           McPherson countyl to the ford on the little Ar kansas
                           the road bears to the southward of the direct line to
                           avoid (or head) a branch of the Kansas river.
15   20                    it is important that the ford on the Little Arkansas
                           be found. as it is generally impassable on account of
                           high banks and unsound bed. The ford is perhaps half a
                           mile below the mouth of a small creek, which -runs
                           into it on the east side.
230  07   517     66       At the crossing of the Little Arkansas [east Rice
                           county] there is wood for fuel and the water and grass
                           are tolerably good. Having crossed the creek,
7    48                    travel up a small creek of it, continuing on the south
                           side of it. There is no timber on this creek, which is
                           short. When at the head of it the sand hills will
                           appear a few miles to the left.
237  55   510     18       Difficult creek [branch of Cow - creek], 15 links,
                           runs southward into Cold Water [Cow creek]. There is
2                          no timber near the road on it, and the bed is rather
                           soft and bad to cross.
239  55   508     18       Timbered creek [Jarvis creek, branch of Cow creek], 10
                           links, runs south'd. It should be crossed just at
7    09                    the upper timber. Water and grass tolerably good.
246  64   501     09       Cold Water or Cow creek [near Lyons Rice county] is a
                           narrow stream from 30 to 50 links wide for the most
                           part miry, banks commonly high. There is tolerable
                           crossing just above the largest body of tim-
15   56                    ber on it which is very conspicuous on the two
                           branches eastward of the creek is timber. The camping
                           is good on this creek for wood, water, grass and
                           (commonly) buffalo.
262  40   485     33       From Cow creek the traveler should be careful not to
                           bear too much to the left or he will get on the sands;
                           he may travel directly west or a little north of west,
                           as he may choose, to fall on the Arkansas. After
                           crossing Cow creek the beaten road, which hitherto has
                           been plain, will probably be seen no more as a guide.
                           The Arkansas will be the guide for about two hundred
                           miles. In general the traveler should not keep near
                           the river, as 'tis sandy. At the foot of the hills the
                           ground is firm and the travelling better. Where it is
                           necessary to turn in to
page 16

Miles. Chns. Miles.  Chns. 
                           the river to camp 'tis commonly best to turn in short
                           or at right alleles, and fuel may be picked up almost
                           anywhere here, and the grass is commonly pretty good
                           Generally the river is a quarter of a mile broad, and
                           may be crossed on horseback almost anywhere if the
                           banks permit, and they are generally low. The water is
                           pleasant in this part of the river and above.
272  41   475     32       Walnut creek, from 60 to 100 links wide, runs into the
                           Arkansas at the north bend a little above a handsome
                           grove of timber on the south part of the river called
                           "Pit Grove." The crossing of the creek is directly
                           between the bends of the river next below and next
                           above the creek. The ford is good. On
25   24                    this creek is more timber than on any from Council
                           Grove, principally low, crooked ash and elm When in
                           season, plenty of plums are to be had here, and the
                           camping is very good for water, fuel and grass The
                           latitude of this place is 38_ 21' 10". The road may
                           continue straight by Rock Point [Pawnee Rock], as
                           dotted, to the crossing of the creek
297  65   450     08       Crooked creek [Ash creek], 50 links wide, bears south
                           east and affords plenty of excellent wood and grass 
4    61                    but the water is not very good. Its bed is shaded with
                           ash and elm. It may be crossed in many places; in the
                           fall it is nearly dry.
302  46   445     27       Pawnee creek [Pawnee river], 100 links wide runs
                           nearly east. Ford tolerably good; west bank a little
                           soft. The ford is at the south point of a sort of
                           bluff. The camping is good for grass and water and
                           tolerable for fuel. The creek is shaded with elm and
                           ash. From this point some travelers prefer to
10   77                    continue up on the south side of this creek for some
                           distance, then crossing it several times, continue
                           westward, passing from the headwaters over to the
                           Arkansas, as being nearer than the river, but the
                           river route is more safe and convenient for man and
313  43   434     30       Mouth of Clear creek [Big Coon creekl, a small stream
                           of transparent running water. Its course is from its
                           head, nearly parallel with the river and
41   19                    near it, in what may perhaps be called the river/
                           bottom. On the south side of the river among the sand
                           hills, which border it opposite the head of Clear
                           creek [Big Coon creek], elk are to be found and a few
                           deer, and, when in season plums and grapes.
354  62   393     11       South Bend of the Arkansas river. there is the first
                           rock bluff seen on the river. The latitude of this
                           place is 37 38' 52". It would be much nearer to cross
                           the river here and ascend Mulberry creek to its source
                           and then go directly to the lower spring Weapon Bed
                           Spring, near Zionville, Grant county] on the Semaron
                           [Cimarron]; but on trial of the way travelers have
                           discontinued it as unsafe It is incommodious of water
                           and timber for fuel, and wants such prominent land
                           marks as will be a sure guide. On this route has been
                           much suffering, in a dry time 'tis dangerous. Some
                           turn off at a place known to the Santa Fe travelers by
                           the name of the "Cashes," near to which is a rocky
                           point of a hill at some distance from the river,
                           composed of cemented pebbles, and therefore called
                           Gravel Rocks At about 3 miles southwest from this rock
                           is a place of
33   22                    crossing for those who travel the lower route, or
                           directly to the aforenamed Semaron Spring, but this
                           (though in  a less degree) is subject to the same
                           objections as that directly from the south bend. The
                           road this way is good, and in the spring and early
                           summer, to those who may be acquainted with it or may
                           have a compass to direct them, it is about 30 miles
                           nigher than the upper route. The direct course from
                           this point to the spring is S. 71 3/4, W. 71, miles
                           [about 72 miles southwest]. But the upper route is
                           more safe for herding stock and more commodious to the
                           traveler, as he will always be sure of wood and water
                           on the river and a sure guide, and in general it is
                           easier to kill buffalo for provision.

page 17


Miles.    Chns.   Miles.  Chns.

388  04   359     69       The Mexican boundary of 100th degree of longitude west
                           from Greenwich is where a few cottonwood trees stand
                           on the north side of the river, about 1 1/2 miles
                           above a timbered bottom on the same side.
39   35                    At this timbered bottom is very good camping for grass
                           and fuel. [This is about 15 miles east of where the
                           100th meridian is now on maps]
427  39   320     34       Crossing of the Arkansas [about 6 miles above the
                           present Garden City and 20 miles east of Chouteau
                           Island], just below the bend of the river at the lower
                           end of a small island, with a few trees. At this place
                           there are no banks on either side to hinder waggons.
                           The crossing is very oblique, landing on the south
                           side a quarter of a mile above the entrance on this
                           side. The river is here very shal-
20                         low, not more than knee deep in a low stage of the
                           Water The bed of the river is altogether sand, and it
                           is unsafe to stand long on one place with a waggon, or
                           it may sink into the sand. After passing a few places
                           just beyond the river the road is again very good up
                           to Chouteau's Island. Keep out from the river or there
                           will be sand to pass.
447  39   300     34       At Chouteau's Island [near heartland, Kearny county]
                           the road leaves the river altogether. Many things
                           unite to mark this place so strongly that the traveler
                           will not mistake it. It is the largest island of
                           timber on the river and on the south side of the
                           river, and on the lower end of the island is a thicket
                           of willows with some cottonwood trees. On the north
                           side of the river the hills approach tolerably nigh
                           and on [one] of them is a sort of mound  conspicuous
                           for some miles distance, and a little eastward of it
                           in a bottom is some timber, perhaps a quarter of a
                           mile from the river. The course of the river likewise
                           being more south identify the place.
                           On the river, through all the space traveled, there is
                           great similarity of features; the hills are commonly
                           very low and the ascent almost everywhere so gentle
                           that waggons may go up them. They are covered with
                           very short grass, and the prickly pear abounds. The
                           soil on the hills is not very good. The bottoms on the
                           river are sometimes good but frequently not so. They
                           are sometimes a mile or more in width, frequently
                           rising so gently it would be difficult to designate
                           the foot of the hill. It is generally sandy near the
                           river, and the grass coarse and high, consequently the
                           traveling is bad near the  river but a little off it
                           is almost everywhere good. On Cow creek or Cold Water
                           short grass commences, and the short grass bounds the
                           burnings of the prairie. This creek is almost as nigh
                           home as buffalo are found, and from this creek they
                           may be had at almost any place until within sight of
                           the mountains near Santa Fe.

                           Before leaving the river, where fuel is plenty, the 
                           traveler will do well to prepare food for the next 
                           hundred miles, as he will find no timber on the road
                           in that distance, except at one place, which will not
                           probably be one of his stages; at least he should
                           prepare bread. In dry weather buffalo dung will make
                           tolerable fuel to boil a kettle, but it is not good
                           for bread baking, and that is the only fuel he will

                           After leaving the river the road leads southward,
                           leaving the two cottonwood trees on the right, which
                           stand perhaps a mile from the river. From the brow of
                           the hill, which is low, and is the border of the sand
                           hills, the road leads a little east of south to a
                           place which sometimes [is] a very large pond. and
                           continues along the western margin, and after passing
                           some trees standing at the south end, reaches a very
                           slight valley, through which in wet weather flows a
                           small creek, coming from the hills beyond the sand
                           hills. From this place the traveler will see some
                           trees in a southwest direction, which he will leave on
                           his right, and will continue along the valley in the
                           bed of the creek (which he can hardly recognize as
                           such) very nearly due south for about four

page 18


Miles. Chns. Miles. Chns.  miles to the southern edge of the sand hills, where
                           generally he will find a large pond of water in the
                           bed of the small creek, which is now more apparent.
                           But this pond is sometimes dry; due south from it for
                           about two miles distant are several ponds of standing
                           water, where the grass is fine and abundant. The
                           distance through the sand hills here is about five
                           miles, and the road not bad. These hills are from
                           thirty to fifty feet high and generally covered with
                           grass and herbage. From this place a due south course
                           will strike the lower spring [Wagon Bed spring, near
                           Zionville, Grant county] on the Semaron creek, and as
                           that creek then is the guide for about eighty miles,
                           and waggons can in one day drive across the level,
                           firm plain from the ponds to the spring, the road was
                           so laid out. There is another advantage, namely the
                           certainty of traveling due south and north from the
                           pass of the sand hills to the spring, and vice versa,
                           is much greater than if the course were oblique to the
                           cardinal points and at any rate there is but little
                           loss of distance for the creek bears so much from the
                           southward that the diagonal or long side is almost
                           equal to the two shorter sides of the very obtuse
                           angle that would be
32   50                    made by striking the creek higher up. The road crosses
                           Halfway creek [North Cimarron river, near Ulysses,
                           Grant county] at somewhat more than ten miles north of
                           the spring, at which place are water and grass. The
                           creek is about 50 links wide and bears southeast, and
                           may be easily crossed.
480  09   267     64       Lower Semaron Spring [wagon Bed spring, Grant county]
                           is at the west edge of a marsh green with bullrushes.
                           The marsh is north of the creek and near It. The
                           spring is constant, but the creek is sometimes dry
                           until you ascend it ten or twelve miles, where it will
                           be found running. The stream is colder and the water
                           better as one travels up it. It is the guide to the
                           traveler until he reaches the upper spring near eighty
                           miles. Three miles above the lower spring is some
                           timber, from which place the road is on the hill north
                           of the creek for twelve 
38   63                    or fifteen miles. One may then either continue on the
                           hills north of the creek or travel in the bottom but
                           the hills are best for ten or fifteen miles further,
                           as the valley of the creek is sandy in many places.
                           One must necessarily camp on the creek to have water,
                           but the water is very bad until one travels a great
                           way up it, as it is impregnated [with saline matter,
                           which, like fine powder, makes white a great part of
                           the valley. The grass in this valley is not so good as
                           that on the Arkansas, the land not being so good
                           either in the valley or on the hills.
518  72   229     01       Middle Spring, near half a mile from the creek, on the
                           north of it, near a mile below a sort of rock bluff at
                           the point of a hill. [This place is in southwest
                           Morton county, about 7 miles north and 6 miles east of
                           the southwest corner of Kansas. The rock bluff is the
                           "Point of Rocks" on southeast 1/4 12-34-43, as noted
                           on maps of later date the old "Point of Rocks" is
                           about 130 miles further on in New Mexico.] Above this
                           middle spring the road is in the creek bottom, which
                           in places is very sandy. One must pick the firmest
                           ground, and for this purpose must cross the creek
                           occasionally, which may be done almost anywhere, as
                           the banks are commonly low and the bed sandy.
549  72   198     01       Timber on the Semaron at this place, which is the
                           first timber on the creek above the few trees near the
                           lower spring. The road leaves the creek and continues
                           in a southwestardly direction to a patch of timber,
                           which may be seen from the hill (near
6     54                   this timber) on the south of the creek At the patch of
                           timber is a spring, called the upper Semaron Spring,
                           and around it are some mounds of coggy rock several
                           hundred feet high.


page 19

Miles. Chns. Miles. Chns.

556  46   191     27       Upper Spring. At this place is wood and water, but not
                           much grass for stock. In season there are plenty of
                           grapes. From this point the road passes by a spur of a
                           hill southwest about a mile from the spring. From this
                           hill will be seen two small mountains very near
                           together, called "Rabbit's Ears," bearing about 60
                           degrees west of south. Those points guide the
                           traveler, but he will at
11   08                    first bear a little to the right of the direct course
                           that he may avoid some points of hills, and will fall
                           on a small creek, and will find it best to cross it
                           and continue up it on the west side a mile or two and
                           then recross it, keeping pretty well the general
567  54   180     19       Mice Spring at this place is no distinct spring, but a
                           miry place where water can be had, but no wood; grass
                           is only tolerable. From this place, after continuing
                           in the general direction to the Rabbit's Ears some
                           five or six miles, "Pilot Mountain" will
18   56                    appear a little more to the west. The road leads, by
                           the foot of it, keeping pretty well the general
                           direction to it.
586  30   161     43       Louse creek, say 30 links wide, and bears southeast.
                           The best camping ground is at a pond of water in the
                           bed of this creek, which does not generally run about
                           half a mile below one or two trees standing on the
                           creek. Commonly a little fuel of drift wood may be
                           picked up, as there is some timber up the creek,
                           though none about the camping ground. The water and
                           grass are good. From this to Turkey creek and thence
                           to the Rabbit's Ears creek the routes are various,
                           agreeably to the traveler's notions. There is some
                           sand (I may say sand hills) to pass from this to
19   07                    creek. The road as here laid down continues up a small
                           fork of Louse creek, on the south side of it, which
                           runs into the creek a mile or more perhaps above the
                           camp, and from the head of this fork passes over to
                           Turkey creek which is near. Perhaps a better way would
                           be to turn up a valley nearly south, which will be
                           seen after leaving the camp a mile or two, continue in
                           the valley a mile or more perhaps, until the general
                           direction to Pilot Mountain may be resumed. The sand
                           will then be on the right hand. The road is tolerably
605  37   142     36       Turkey creek. On this creek the camping is good for
                           wood, water and grass. The creek is 50 links and bears
                           Rabbit's Ears creek, 50 links wide, runs from this
                           place, where the traveler leaves it, nearly east. On
                           the south of it everywhere is at a little distance
                           from the stream, a rocky hill several hundred  feet
                           high, from the top of which is level land to
                           southwards. On this creek camping is good for water,
                           wood and grass. Here also are some deer, the first
                           seen after passing the south bend of the Arkansas.
620  37   127     36       Pilot Mountain, on the left hand. From about this
                           place will be seen many small mountains on the right
                           at ten or fifteen miles distance, extending to the
                           southwest, the extremity of which is called the Point
                           of Rocks, to which the road leads, at first bearing
                           more southward to avoid sand.
627  37   120     36       A creek, ten links, bears south'd. On this creek a
                           scattering bush or two appears, but no timber; water
                           and grass are tolerable. On the west edge of a broad
                           and sometimes dry pond covered with grass
14   27                    and weeds, and where are some rocks above the ground,
                           at one mile eastward of this creek, is a good spring;
                           no drain from it except for a few feet.
641  64   106     09       Don Carolus creek, 50 links wide. bears southwest.
                           Here is plenty of wood, water and grass, and the
7    19                    crossing of the creek is tolerably good.
649  03   98      70       Nooning branch. Here is generally water and grass and
1    40                     and fuel. 


page 20


Miles.Chns.Miles. Chns.

650  43   97      30       Point of Rocks. At this place is a very constant and
                           good spring. The mountains are in full view, and
13   78                    as no beaten road will be discovered until more
                           traveled, the traveler will be guided by the strong
                           features of the country, which with care on his part
                           will conduct him safely on his journey
664  41   83      32       From the Point of Rocks the traveler will proceed a
                           little south of west, as indicated by the map, leaving
                           a higher swell of the plain or a little hill a fourth
                           or half a mile to his left and will proceed until at
                           the brow of the high tableland on which he will find
                           himself to be. Looking across the valley before him,
                           through which a small creek flows to southwest, he
                           will see the southern point of similar
6    31                    highland to that on which he is, a little beyond which

                           point is the Canadian river. The road passes as near
                           the point on the south of it as is convenient  and
                           continues forward to the Canadian. On the creek in the
                           valley short of the Canadian is water and grass
                           plenty, but no timber. There are a few willow bushes.
670  72   77      01       Canadian river, a bold running stream from 50 to 80
                           links wide, bears southeast. The ford is rocky and
                           shallow and is easy to find. If missed the traveler
                           would not be able to cross below the fork in many
                           miles. Camping is good for water and grass, and fuel
                           may be had, but it is here scarce. On the west bank of
                           this stream the road to Santa Fe by
8    52                    the way of St. Miguel turns off to the left, on which
                           see the remarks at the end of this work. From the
                           crossing of the Canadian the road continues a little
                           west of south just by and on the south side of a hill
                           with small bushy pines.
679  44   68      29       A pond of water in the valley near to the pine hills
                           where fuel may be had and water and plenty of grass
                           for stock. From the pine hill the road bears a little
                           more south, and will in 5 or 6 miles pass some very
                           elevated tableland or a low, flat-top mountain.
                           Leaving it on the right, will cross the bed of a small
                           creek (frequently dry), bearing southeast, and will
                           cross the valley obliquely to the elevated tableland
                           which bounds the southern side of the valley, and will
                           continue to the southwest quarter of the valley (which
                           is several miles broad
14                28       and projects with several prongs westward) to where
                           the tableland on the south of the road joins a spur of
                           what may be deemed a low mountain projecting to the
                           south'd two or three miles. At the junction the road,
                           turning more to the left up a narrow valley, ascends
                           to the top of the tableland. From this place, where
                           there are a few small, bushy trees, fuel may be taken
                           to a pond of water about half a mile eastward, where
                           there is plenty of fine grass. 
693  72   54      01       The road continues around the spur of the mountain and
                           turns westward up a small creek with rocky cliffs,
                           which will be immediately on the left, and will cross
                           it immediately at the upper end of the cliffs, and
                           will continue up it, passing a gap of an arm of the
                           mountain, and just a high cliff or point on the left,
                           will cross a small fork of the creek and will continue
                           up the north fork of it,
19   17                    which is the most considerable, to the foot of the
                           mountain. On the south side of the small creek which
                           runs boldly, the road ascends the mountain, winding to
                           the southwest to advantage until the brow is gained at
                           the edge of a prairie. This part of the road up the
                           mountain is strong and there is timber of pine and
                           dwarf oak.
713  09   34      64       This hill is the worst part of the road. As it is
                           waggons can carry up light loads, but with labor . . .
                           it might (and with no great difficulty) be made
                           tolerably good. This is the first hill of difficulty .
                           . . from the commencement. It is about a mile and 3
                           half from the foot to the summit, and when at the
                           summit a prairie, which like a fillet borders the brow
                           of this spur of the


page 21


Miles. Chns. Miles. Chns   mountains, will conduct the traveler in a western
                           direction to its descent. The soil of the prairie is
                           dark and rich and the grass luxuriant and fine. It
                           abounds with springs of the finest water. All the way
                           on this mountain there is much more elevated land on
                           the right of the road, which is  thickly timbered for
                           the most part. Several species of pine, the aspen,
                           some cedar and dwarf oak are the timbers of the
                           mountain. Here also are found several sorts of game:
                           bear, elk, deer, and turkey. Having descended the
                           western side of this mountain, which is tolerably
                           thickly timbered, at the foot of it the road enters a
                           prairie, where there is a small beaten path leading in
                           a western direction, as the road goes, continuing up a
                           branch on the north side of it, crossing almost at
                           right angles, one fork of it about 10 links wide
                           running very boldly south about two miles from the
                           foot of the mountain. At about three miles further are
                           three fine
15   07                    springs in the valley, where is plenty of fuel, but
                           grass only tolerable nothing comparable anywhere on
                           the valley to what it is on the mountain. The road
                           continues westward along the small path bearing a
                           little more from the branch and falling on it again
                           near the foot of a mountain, which is the dividing
                           ridge, and which is about two miles from the valley
728  16   19      57       Foot of the dividing ridge. This mountain, especially
                           on the east side, is more timbered than the other but
                           not so bad to cross.
4    01                    It also has prairie on the top like unto the other,
                           through which the road passes to the western brow.
                           Through the timbered parts of the mountain the road is
732  17   15      56       Western foot of the dividing ridge. Here is a small
                           stream, which flows with increased size into the
                           valley of Taos. Just by the village of San Fernando
                           the road continues down it to the best advantage,
15   56                    crossing it frequently. This valley is extremely
                           scarce of grass and the road not good though with
                           little labor it might be excellent.
747  73                    San Fernando, the principal village in Taos. This
                           being the nearest of the Mexican settlements, the most
                           northern and the most abundant in provisions for man
                           and beast, determined the survey of the road hither,
                           although the way to Santa Fe by St. Miguel is said to
                           be somewhat better and equally high. From Taos which
                           is in latitude 36_ 24' 00" to Santa Fe, in latitude
                           35_ 41' 15", the distance as traveled is about 70
                           miles, and with a little labor a good waggon road may
                           be had. The course is about south-southwest. The Rio
                           Del Norte, 7 or 8 miles west of Taos and about twice
                           that distance west of Santa Fe, is about three chains
                           wide and has many ripples and places to hinder
                           navigation. The road leading from one place to the
                           other falls on the river and continues along it a few
                           miles. Between these two places are some half dozen
                           villages or more, the chief of which is Santa Cruz,
                           about 22 miles above Santa Fe and in sight of the
In conclusion a few remarks will be made on the road by St. Miguel, not from observation, but from information.

Immediately after crossing the Canadian the traveler will turn nearly south, and after going a few miles will reach a bold running stream, the same which the road to Taos continues up. He will cross it at a fall or rapid, as below he cannot for its rocky cliffs, and above he can not on account of mud and quicksand. After crossing this creek he will continue forward in the same direction and where convenient will ascend the high tableland which extends all along on the right and will proceed forward. Just by the east end of a small mountain shaped like a shoe, with the toe to the west . . . It is very plain to sight from the elevated lands before crossing the Canadian and when first seen bears 25 degrees west. It may be a day's travel or more from the crossing of the Canadian. After passing it a longer mountain will be passed, leaving it on the left This too is in sight as soon as the other, which is called the Pilot. After passing the long mountain on the left the directions are general. The mountain will be a guide on the right; some small isolated ones will be on the left. The road is level and generally good. Several creeks will be crossed, and the road, bearing a little west of south, will lead to St. Miguel, which is about 45 miles southeast from Santa Fe, from which the road is plain.

October 27, 1827.


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