KanColl: The Kansas Historical Quarterlies

The Pike's Peak Gold Rush and the
Smoky Hill Route, 1859-1860

by Calvin W. Gower

Summer 1959 (Vol. 25, No. 2), pages 158 to 171
Transcribed by Jeannie Josephson; HTML composition by Name withheld upon request
Digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society;
numbers in brackets refer to notes at the bottom of the article.

KANSAS territory, 1854-1861, extended from the western border of Missouri to the crest of the Rocky Mountains and included much of present-day eastern Colorado. When hordes of gold seekers participated in the Pike's Peak gold rush in 1859 and 1860, they not only passed through eastern Kansas territory in many instances, but they also did most of their prospecting in far western Kansas.

     Eastern Kansas towns seemed to be in an ideal position to benefit from the rush. Undoubtedly many people went overland through Iowa and Nebraska, but the easiest approach was to go up the Missouri river to one of the Kansas, Missouri, or Nebraska river towns. By the early part of 1859 those who could afford it were crossing the Missouri via the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad. Kansas City and St. Joseph in Missouri and Omaha in Nebraska were good outfitting points, but the Kansas river towns claimed certain advantages. Kansas City and St. Joseph were said to be on the wrong side of the river, and the Nebraska town was too far up and too small.

     Which route gold seekers might select was of much importance to river towns. Three main routes were used in 1859 and 1860. The southern followed the old Santa Fe trail for a large part of the way. Much of this traffic eventually started from Kansas City, Mo. None of the larger Kansas towns were on this trail. It attracted quite a few emigrants in 1859, not as many in 1860. The northern route followed the old Oregon trail in part, via the Platte river. Some extreme northeastern Kansas towns benefited, but few others. Atchison, Kan., and St. Joseph, Mo., were the chief starting points, with the latter gaining much of the trade. Several "central" routes supposedly existed, but by the early spring of 1859 the most popular was the Smoky Hill. This was by way of the Kansas river and its southern fork, the Smoky Hill, with Leavenworth as its principal starting point.

     Of all the routes, the Smoky Hill was the most direct. [1] As early as September, 1858, Kansas newspapers were printing statements to this effect. One account asserted that the distance from Wyandotte by the Smoky might be only 500 miles. [2] Another newspaper estimated that the air line distance from Leavenworth was only 555 miles and said there were settlements to within 250 miles of the mines. [3]

     Citizens of Wyandotte held a meeting in September, 1858, to push it as an outfitting point. It was argued "that the true route is directly up the Kansas river and Smoky Hill fork." [4] The Lawrence Republican noted on October 7, 1858, that Leavenworth and Kansas City were in contention, with Leavenworth defending the Smoky and Kansas City and Santa Fe. The Republican claimed that the Smoky passed through settled areas farther. A letter to the Junction City Sentinel stated that a man who had returned by way of the Smoky said the distance was shorter, the roads better, the wood, water, and game plentiful, and the settlements farther out. [5]

     Besides these newspaper stories, three guide books published early in 1859 stressed the advantages of the Smoky Hill route. The author of one said it was the shortest but cautioned that until it was definitely opened up emigrants should take one of the better established routes. But he stated, "A central route will be opened the coming season," undoubtedly the Smoky Hill route. [6] A second guide book recommended the Smoky, stating that it followed the banks of streams except for about 130 miles. It advised striking south to meet the Arkansas river in the extreme western portion of the route. [7] A third guide book supported the Smoky for the same reasons.[8]

     Praise of the Smoky continued into 1859. The Leavenworth Weekly Times reported o February 12 that the Junction City Sentinel advised emigrants to travel via Leavenworth. This fact was significant, said the Times because Junction City was in the western portion of the settled part of Kansas and had no interests to serve but the good of the emigrant. What it neglected to mention was that these travelers were also expected to pass through Junction City. In March a letter in the Times from William Larimer, a correspondent in Denver, stated that four men had recently arrived by way of the Smoky. He reported that they had been very well satisfied with the route. [9] One account noted that in 1843 John C. Fremont had explored the country between the Missouri river and the Rocky Mountains and in his narrative had recommended the Smoky route to the area. "Subsequent explorations have corroborated the view taken by the Great Explorer, and the bulk of the spring emigration will, undoubtedly, select this as their main road." [10]

     In Lawrence the Republican printed a letter March 24,1859, advising emigrants to go directly up the Smoky Hill to its head and then west. [1] The Herald of Freedom Hand-Book and Guide to Pike's Peak agreed, and said Lawrence was the best outfitting point. [12] A letter from the gold fields to the Wyandotte Commercial Gazette stated that several parties had come through by the Smoky Hill. "They report a good supply of wood water and grass." [13] The Junction City Sentinel even became poetic, "Let Hercules do what he may, The Smoky Hill Route MUST have its day." [14]

     Within months it was clear that the ideas expressed by these newspapers were incorrect in most instances. As one historian pointed out, in 1858 and 1859 "there was no discernable trail at all after one left Fort Riley.... Added to this lack of knowledge of the route to be taken, those who recommended the Smoky Hill trail had little knowledge of distance." [15] Another writer has commented, "Although it was the most direct, the Smoky was, due to scarcity of water, the hardest and most dangerous of the three great prairie roads from the Big Muddy to the Pike's Peak Gold Region." [16]

[Please click here for text version of tables in graphics]

Table of distances to gold fields from Atchison via Standard Parallel Route and Great Military Road, 1859

Table of distances to gold fields from Atchison via Smoky Hill Fork Route, 1859


     Kansas towns vied for "tourist" traffic in 1859 as now. These travel directions, covering three main routes west from Atchison, were published in 1859 issues of an Atchison newspaper, Freedom's Champion.
     Since the return of the buffalo (on scattered reservations, of course) today's traveler might even be able to locate buffalo chips for fuel if he looks closely enough. But beware of the buffalo.

     The Kansas City (Mo.) Western Journal of Commerce stated on April 9, 1859, that it had heard that suffering was occurring on the Smoky Hill route. Said the Journal, "How often will it be necessary to tell the public that there is no road up the Smoky Hill." The Cherry Creek Pioneer, which appeared only once and then discontinued operation, reported from Denver on April 23 that several men who had recently arrived via the Smoky Hill route had become lost because of the absence of markers on it. Stated the Pioneer, "Any other route is better than the smoky Hill road." [17] A man from Council Grove brought a report to Kansas City of a company of 100 men who had come down from the Smoky Hill route, lost and without provisions. He said they robbed the trading post at Cottonwood crossing, beat up the keeper, took 80 to 100 sacks of corn and all the flour, provisions, and groceries on hand, and headed for the mines. [18] The Rocky Mountain News asserted, "Every day we meet men arriving from the States by the above route -- most of them in an almost famishing condition." This newspaper reported that three men had died from starvation. Other stories of deaths and disappearance appeared. One emigrant related a talk of 17 men who had died or disappeared and another claimed the remains of one hundred men could be seen along the trail. The News bitterly condemned the people who had induced emigrants to start over the route with a short supply of provisions expecting to find a good road with good camps; a road 250 miles shorter than any other route. Instead, said the News, the emigrants found no road at all, very little wood or water, and a distance to travel of 800 instead of 600 miles. [19]

     These stories of suffering on the Smoky Hill route continued until the most dreadful of all appeared. It was related in a published pamphlet by one of the survivors.

     Daniel Blue, his two brothers, Alexander and Charles, and two other men left their homes in Illinois in February, 1859, to seek gold in the Pike's Peak gold region. They proceeded to Lawrence, purchased a pony, put their luggage on the animal, and started walking to the mining area. In Topeka they bought 200 pounds of flour. At Manhattan they joined a party of nine other Pike's Peakers and proceeded on to Fort Riley. By the time they reached that place the party had swelled to 16. The group decided to take the Smoky Hill route on the recommendation of one of their number who claimed to have traveled that trail before. Nine of the men stopped to hunt buffalo, but the rest pushed ahead. These seven became lost west of Fort Riley, their pony wandered away, and they were left with practically no provisions.

     About March 17 they reached the head of the Smoky Hill fork and believed themselves to be only about 55 miles from Denver. Actually, said Daniel Blue, they were about 170 miles away. They had no course to follow and used the sun for a guide. They were lost and had virtually no food left. To add to their troubles a severe snowstorm occurred. Soon the party of seven split up, three of the men pushing ahead, leaving behind a group of four, the three Blue brothers and a man named Soley. Before long two of them were too weak to walk. The four ran out of provisions and subsisted upon boiled roots, grass, and snow for eight days.

     In their desperate situation, realizing that they faced death from starvation, the men determined to resort to cannibalism. They agreed that if one of them died the others should eat his flesh in an attempt to regain their strength and permit them to push on to some settlement. Soley died, and after lying beside him for three days the Blue brothers ate his flesh. Then Alexander Blue expired and the other brothers partook of his flesh. A short time later some Arapaho Indians found Daniel and saved him. They contacted the express company which took Daniel to Denver where he arrived on May 11. He found that only five of the 16 who had left Fort Riley had reached the gold fields. [20]

     These tales of suffering brought forth bitter attacks on Leavenworth by the Kansas City Western Journal of Commerce. Said the Journal, "We are informed that they have a couple of bottles, filled with brass filings at a banking house in Leavenworth, which they place in the window, labeled 'Pike's Peak Gold.' It is this sort of stuff, together with 'painted wagons', 'ten days Expresses,' that never run at all, that has killed so many on the Smoky Hill." [21] The Leavenworth Weekly Herald replied that in carping Kansas City all the bottles were filled with "instanter whiskey" and that was the people wanted them to continue. [22]

     A short time later two journalists explained why suffering had occurred on the Smoky Hill. One of them stated, "That route will doubtless turn out as good in the end as either the Northern or Southern. But at the time of the beginning of the Pike's Peak emigration it was but partially explored.... " [23] The other asserted, "Thousands took an unexplored route, up the Smoky Hill river, where grass and water proved woefully scarce and fearful suffering prevailed."

     The unfortunate results of the 1859 spring emigration struck a deathblow to the Smoky Hill route. Very few items appeared in the papers concerning it during the summer and fall of 1859. However, in late September a meeting was held in Manhattan to consider the possibility of surveying and constructing a road from Leavenworth to Denver via Manhattan, Fort Riley, and the Solomon fork. The group appointed a committee to talk to the people of Leavenworth and other towns along the route. [25] This movement never developed further but a similar one concerning the Smoky Hill route did.

     In the early part of 1860 discussion of the Smoky Hill route occurred in the Kansas legislature and in some newspapers. Two bills were introduced in the territorial council to establish roads up the Smoky Hill river to some point at the base of the Rocky Mountains. [26] In February the Rocky Mountain News printed a letter from someone in Denver who said the Platte route was the best, but that most people from the South and Southwest would select the Arkansas (the Santa Fe) route. Only the "fool-hardy and insane" would come up the Smoky Hill, this writer declared. [27] The Kansas Press of Council Grove, located on the Santa Fe route, said of the Smoky Hill route in late February, "we trust no one will be so foolish as to attempt to travel it." [28]

     In spite of this attitude and in spite of the failures of the preceding year, Leavenworth still contained supporters of the Smoky Hill route in the spring of 1860. One of these sent a letter to the editor of the Times of that town late in February. Leavenworth must do something, this correspondent wrote, to offset the advantage obtained by St. Joseph through the establishment of the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad. He suggested "that a Committee of arrangements ... organize and equip as soon as possible, a party, who are to proceed and examine the region between Fort Riley and the Gold Region of Western Kansas -- the route to follow the Smoky Hill fork to its source...." This party should consist of not less than 18 well-equipped men, under the direction of an engineer, and should make a thorough survey of the route and construct good crossings over all the streams. The motive of the letter writer appeared in his last sentence: "By thus securing a short, commodious and direct route to the mines, Leavenworth can yet secure this season, the greatest part of the trade and travel to and from the Gold region, as their nearest river route." [29] The Smoky Hill route boom which subsequently developed in Leavenworth was clearly linked to efforts to secure more outfitting trade for that town and to combat the efforts of St. Joseph and other rivals.

     Another letter writer shortly thereafter asserted, "At present, the great struggle is for the Lion's share of the Pike's Peak trade." Leavenworth could secure this by obtaining machinery for the quartz interests to purchase and by establishing a central route to the gold fields up the Smoky Hill fork. This correspondent suggested that the people in the towns from Leavenworth to Junction City collect funds toward constructing the road. He maintained that "every town, and every farmer on the route is interested, and can be induced to contribute in some way to the result." [30]

     The Times supported this movement. It maintained that the best and shortest route to the gold fields lay from Leavenworth, but that the people interested in the route must improve it. Thirty to thirty-five thousand dollars would suffice to cover the expense of the necessary improvements, the newspaper declared. This sum would permit the employment of 100 to 150 men on the road who could complete the work in a short time. Adherents must act upon the plan quickly though, the Times concluded. [31]

     As a result of this publicity, some Leavenworth residents held several road meetings in March. Those attending decided the principal stumbling block for road planners was financial. How much money would road construction require, and where would this money come from? The number of people at these meetings was not large. A committee was appointed at one meeting to collect subscriptions and information on the subject and to report at a later meeting. [32]

     Other towns supported this move. The Lawrence Republican defended the Smoky Hill route with the explanation:

Some parties who started out on that route last season took an insufficiency of provisions, and therefore incurred great suffering. But that was no fault of the route. Large numbers of persons returned from the mines by that route last season, and all spoke of it as the shortest and best. [33]

     Later this paper reported,

The citizens of Leavenworth are moving in the matter of a road to the gold mines, up the Smoky Hill river. This is a sensible movement and should have been made long ago. It will not be possible for Leavenworth long to retain the Pike's Peak trade, if the present northern route is maintained. The people of our own locality are also interested in this route, and will gladly second the efforts of our Leavenworth neighbors. [34]

     The State Record of Topeka stated that the Smoky Hill route was doubtless the shortest and best. [35]

     The Rocky Mountain News, on the other hand, protested against attempts to build up the Smoky Hill route again as a fine usable route. Inducing emigrants to use the route "for the benefit of speculators and lot owners, in prospective towns along the line of travel, has been tried once over this fated Smoky Hell route with only too lamentable success, and its instigators stand to-day, in the sight of Heaven, guilty of manslaughter, to say the least." The News suggested that the promoters of the Smoky Hill route try it themselves and "if they get through without eating each other up, some adventurous individuals may be induced to follow." [36]

     Such an attitude did not deter Leavenworth promoters. The general meetings did not seem to be making much progress, so the Leavenworth city council accepted the proposition of an experienced mountaineer to open up the route. This move prompted the first of the two Leavenworth-sponsored expeditions sent to locate a road over the Smoky Hill in 1860.

     Late in March, Green Russell, one of the pioneer prospectors in the Pike's Peak region, appeared in Leavenworth on his way to the gold fields. He went before the city council and offered to locate a road over the Smoky Hill route for $3,500. He promised to provide a guide for this road giving the distances between camping grounds and information on the supply of wood, grass, and water, and he agreed to send a report of his findings to the mayor and the council of Leavenworth. If he passed over the route in 40 days, he promised to deduct one third of the sum charged. The council unanimously accepted the proposition. Commented the Times concerning the report Russell would send back, "If favorable, that report will influence one half the return travel in the fall, and control a large portion of the outgoing emigration in the summer." [37]

     Other towns in Kansas approved the Green Russell expedition. A Lawrence paper asserted,

The citizens of Leavenworth are at last awaking to the necessity of opening a road from that city direct to the mines, via the Smoky Hill Fork. It is the only method by which Leavenworth can hope to retain her Pike's Peak trade, or maintain her position as the outfitting emporium for the gold regions. For the northern route, Atchison and St. Joseph are two powerful competitors.

The newspaper added that if the Smoky Hill route were not opened the Pacific railroad would go by the Platte route. [38] The Topeka State Record commented, "The entire Kansas Valley is deeply interested in this project, and should co-operate with Leavenworth to the extent of their ability in securing the opening of the route." [39] An editor in Manhattan declared, "This is a sensible movement, and should have been made long ago.... The people of our own locality are also interested in this route and will gladly second the efforts of our Leavenworth neighbors." [40] A letter to a Leavenworth paper from a man in Junction City stated that Junction City favored Leavenworth's attentions to the Smoky Hill route. [41] Even the Rocky Mountain News approved the plan to send Green Russell out to explore and to mark the route. However, the editor of the gold fields paper did not think anyone could construct a good road via the Smoky Hill, and, therefore, he declared he would not recommend any travel over that route until the road had been definitely established. [42]

     In early May Green Russell's party arrived in the gold fields. [43] On May 15 the mayor of Leavenworth received Russell's report. The Times reported that this account was very favorable. Now, counseled the Times, Leavenworth should immediately call a convention of representatives from all the cities and towns interested in the route and should ask the national government to send over the route a survey team of 60 men or so accompanied by an engineer. [44] Even before Green Russell had completed his journey and sent back his report, the Leavenworth Weekly Herald had opined that the towns along the Kansas river and Leavenworth must set up a fund of $30,000 to $50,000 for a complete exploration of the Smoky Hill route and the opening up of a government wagon road over the route. For, even if Green Russell did a good surveying job, "neither his say so, nor any other private person's say so will secure popular faith in a route which once proved so disastrous to those who tried it." Also, the editor of the Herald believed that Russell's party was too small to do a thorough job of exploring. He suggested a convention of representatives from Leavenworth, Atchison, Kansas City, and all Kansas river towns to set up a comprehensive plan of survey, because the Smoky Hill route was important to the economy of all these towns. [45]

     Thus, although the Green Russell expedition evoked an abundance of enthusiasm when it began and even later when its report came back, some observers had seen at an early date that it would have only limited value. Earlier complaints that the expedition was almost worthless seemed to be confirmed by subsequent events. Just a few weeks after the completion of Russell's trip another exploration was on its way to open up the Smoky Hill route.

     When Russell's report arrived in Leavenworth, interested citizens of that town held a public meeting to consider their next step. [46] The Times declared, "No citizen having any interest in Leavenworth should forget or overlook the meeting to-night at the City Hall." [47] A report which appeared in the Rocky Mountain News late in May explained the urgency of this meeting. This report came from an anonymous Eastern correspondent of the News who wrote from St. Louis May 6. He stated that many emigrants were going to the Rocky Mountains at this time:

St. Joseph particularly furnishes ample evidence of the numerical strength of this spring's emigration.... The emigration from Atchison, Leavenworth and Kansas City, is not heavy this spring. More freight trains, it is true, are started from these three towns than from those farther north, but the bulk of the emigration itself seems to avoid them. Leavenworth, especially appears to be much less attractive as an outfitting point than last year. [48]

     At the meeting held to consider Russell's report in mid-May in Leavenworth the assembly set up a committee to devise a plan concerning the Smoky Hill road. The committee suggested the following program: "First, to raise means in the city. Second, to secure, forthwith, the co-operation of cities and counties along the line. Third, to start a party, headed by practical and thorough men, upon the road, to build and establish it." [49] A few days earlier the city council of Leavenworth had appointed the mayor and two other citizens to constitute a committee to correspond with other towns interested in opening a wagon road from Leavenworth to Denver over the Smoky Hill. [50]

     Conferences between the interested towns occupied the next few days. Newspapers in the Kansas river towns responded favorably to Leavenworth's overtures. The Manhattan Express urged both Manhattan and Junction City to foster the movement. [51] The Topeka State Record stated, "Measures should now be taken immediately for opening this route, and turning to practical account the important facts developed."[52]

     The Times noted on May 23 that 'delegates have been sent to Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan and Junction[City], and ere a fortnight passes a company will be out to build the road.' [53] Leavenworth's plan was to send out a construction train to make bridges, fix crossings, and dig wells. The train should consist of 35 men and a competent superintendent sent out to work for 65 days. The estimated cost of this operation was $7,500, and Leavenworth reportedly had already raised $2,000. The town would raise most of the remainder of the sum, but it expected the Kansas valley towns who were interested to contribute something also. Lawrence planned a meeting to decide what its participation in the activity would be, and a local paper urged the importance of the movement upon the merchants of that town. [54] Topeka residents held a public meeting May 23 to confer with the Leavenworth Smoky Hill route committee to discuss plans. [55] Manhattan citizens held a conference about the same time and discussed various means to finance the endeavor. [56]

     Money was scarce in Kansas at this time, but Topeka offered to furnish five yoke of cattle and whatever amount of money it could raise, probably between three and five hundred dollars. [57] Junction City appropriated $500 in bonds and declared it would double that amount if necessary. Ogden offered a yoke of oxen, and Manhattan promised $500 in bonds. Vermillion offered a mare, Auburn promised three yoke of cattle, and Lawrence raised $155 in cash. The total cash value of subscriptions from the Kansas valley towns by June 2 was $2,165. The Leavenworth city council authorized the issuance of $3,000 in bonds. [58]

     The financial arrangements were thus fairly well underway by the time authorities in Leavenworth completed the organization of the expedition. Superintendent of the party was Henry T. Green, a 34-year-old attorney from Virginia, who had lived in Leavenworth since 1854. [59] Green, who was not an experienced prairie traveler, led a party which included a guide, an engineer, and a practical surveyor. [60] The expedition consisted of about 40 other persons, five wagons, 60 days of provisions, and plenty of firearms and ammunition. The group left Leavenworth about June 18. [61]

     The Green expedition reached Topeka on June 22 and Manhattan four days later. Green visited the office of the Manhattan Express and told some of his plans. He intended to halt at the extreme headwaters of the Smoky Hill and make a thorough investigation of the country between that point and Cherry Creek. Also, the expedition planned to bridge all streams which travelers had difficulties crossing, smooth out abrupt declivities, fill all steep hollows, remove bad rocks, try to make as direct a route as possible and set up suitable guideboards and other markers. The Express stressed the long-range importance of the expedition by emphasizing that the road which the expedition opened would be the forerunner of a railroad "which will soon be demanded by the importance which the Gold Mines on our Western border are beginning to assume." [62]

     Green and his men were in Salina on July 4 and that town prepared a Fourth of July picnic for them. [63] A Leavenworth paper reported July 23,

     The last heard from the Smoky Hill Expedition, was when at a point of fifty miles beyond Salina. As far as the work had progressed, the route was excellent, and no difficulty of any kind had been experienced. The road was marked by mounds, about a mile apart, so that there could be no trouble in finding it hereafter. [64]

     About a month later the Times received a letter from its special correspondent who was traveling with the expedition. He announced that the party had reached the gold fields after 57 days on the trail; the expedition, he wrote, had made a good road to both Denver and Colorado City. The Times greeted this announcement with the statement, "Leavenworth City will soon recover her former vitality...."[65]

     Green sent a letter from Denver shortly after his party reached that place. He wrote that wood was scarce on the Smoky Hill route in many places but plenty of buffalo chips were available. Up to Big Grove an abundance of water existed, and beyond Big Grove the longest stretch without water was only 22 miles. "All through the route we have made mounds and sign boards so that no man can lose it." Green intended to start back to Leavenworth soon and promised that upon his arrival he would "furnish a report of our financial condition, which is quite low, also a diary of our travel, water, grass, wood, buffalo chips, and the face of the country." [66]

     Green and others arrived back in Leavenworth on October 6. Several Leavenworth citizens visited him on his first evening in town, organizing into a meeting to decide what steps should be taken to present Green's report to the people of Leavenworth. They decided to have Green and other officers of the expedition report to the city council on October 9 and then later relate their experiences at a meeting of all the citizens of Leavenworth. The Times commented that the opening of the route was of great significance to Leavenworth. Expectations were that a large emigration would roll to the gold fields in 1861. [67]

     Green reported before a general meeting of the people of Leavenworth on October 16. [68] Three days before this meeting, authorities auctioned off all of the equipment used by the green expedition and a large crowd collected to bid on the various items. [69] In March, 1861, the report was distributed in pamphlet form. [70] This pamphlet also contained an explanatory preface by the publishing committee of Leavenworth city council and a table of distances between Leavenworth and Denver. [71] With this publication the Green expedition completed its activities.

     Some Kansas newspapers greeted the work of the Green expedition with enthusiasm. The Lawrence Republican stated, "We shall soon have the immense trade and travel of the entire gold regions directed through our city...."[72] The Topeka State Record commented that the Smoky Hill route had innumerable advantages and the Manhattan Express asserted that the Smoky Hill would "positively be the great thoroughfare to the gold regions."[73]

     People from the gold fields who traveled back over that route sustained the enthusiasm for the Smoky Hill road. A man who had recently returned over the route declared in October, 1860, that he believed it was shorter and better than the Platte or Arkansas. [74] Four men who came over the route to Leavenworth from Denver asserted that it was the best road from the mines, over one hundred miles shorter than any other. [75] Another returned Pike's Peaker praised the road, but noted one drawback. His complaint was: "... the landmarks erected by the surveying expedition, are being demolished by the herds of buffalo on the plains, and ... unless measures are speedily taken to restore them, an entire new survey, much of the distance, will have to be made." [76]

     Actually the destruction of the landmarks made little difference in the history of the route. The desperate endeavor by Leavenworth and the Kansas river towns to construct a route which would gain a place beside the Platte route came two years too late. The peak of the rush to the gold fields had occurred in 1859. The traffic in 1860 was still of sizeable proportions, but the Smoky Hill road was constructed too late in that year to benefit from it. In 1861 the rush was over. The improved route did not help the Kansas valley towns gain much of the gold seekers' trade, but it did serve a useful purpose later as the road for the Butterfield stage line and even later for the Kansas Pacific railroad. [77] The route proved its usefulness, but only at a later date and under different circumstances than those which prevailed in 1859 and 1860.

     Dr. Calvin W. Gower, Colorado born, recently received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He is currently an instructor in history at St. Cloud State College, St. Cloud, Minn.

      1. See William Crane Johnston, Jr., "The Smoky Hill Trail" (master's thesis, University of Denver, 1927). This work is incomplete, but it gives an outline of the history of the trail. The events covered in this article are not touched on to any great extent by Johnston.

     2. Leavenworth Ledger and Wyandotte Commercial Gazette, quoted in the Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, September 18,1858.

     3. White Cloud, Kansas Chief, September 23,1858.

     4. Western Weekly Argus, Wyandotte, September 30,1858.

     5. James S. Graham to the editor of the Sentinel, no date. -- Junction City Sentinel, quoted in the Lawrence Republican, October 7,1858.

     6. O.B. Gunn, New Map and Hand-Book of Kansas & the Gold Mines... (Pittsburgh, 1859), pp. 40, 42.

     7. William B. Parsons, The New Gold Mines of Western Kansas... (Cincinnati, 1859), pp. 40, 42.

     8. The Illustrated Miners' Hand-Book and Guide to Pike's Peak... (St. Louis, 1859), p. 66.

     9. William Larimer, Jr., to the editor of the Times, February 2, 1859. -- Leavenworth Weekly Times, March 5, 1859.

     10. Ibid., March 19,1859.

     11. A. Cutler to the editors of the Republican, March 10,1859 -- Lawrence Republican, March 24,1859.

     12. Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, March 26, 1859.

     13. D.C. Collier to the editor of the Wyandotte Commercial Gazette, February 12, 1859, quoted in the Lawrence Republican, April 14,1859.

     14. Junction City Sentinel, quoted in the Freedom's Champion, Atchison, March 26, 1859.

     15. Johnston, op. cit., p.14.

     16. Margaret Long, The Smoky Trail, Following the Old Historic Pioneer Trails on the Modern Highways (Denver, 1953), p. 20.

     17. Cherry Creek Pioneer, Denver, April 23, 1859.

     18. Western Journal of Commerce, Kansas City, Mo., May 7, 1859.

     19. Rocky Mountain News, Denver, May 7, 1859.

     20. Daniel Blue, Thrilling Narrative of the Adventures, Sufferings and Starvation of Pike's Peak Gold Seekers ... (Chicago, 1860), pp. 6-8, 10-17. See also, Henry Villard, "To the Pike's Peak Country in 1859 and Cannibalism on the Smoky Hill Route," The Colorado Magazine, Denver, v. 8 (November, 1931), pp. 225-236.

     21. Western Journal of Commerce, May 28,1859. Somehow the impression was gained in some quarters that the Jones and Russell express was using the Smoky Hill route. This was not true, but the express company was blamed for some of the emphasis which was placed on the Smoky Hill route.

     22. Weekly Leavenworth Herald, June 4, 1859.

     23. Henry Villard, The Past and Present of the Pike's Peak Gold Regions, reprinted from the edition of 1860, with introduction and notes by LeRoy R. Hafen (Princeton, 1932), p. 25.

     24. Albert D. Richardson, Beyond the Mississippi ... (Hartford, Conn., 1875), pp. 157, 158.

     25. Manhattan Express, October 1, 1859.

     26. Council Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Kansas Territory ... 1860, pp. 34, 67.

     27. "D." to the editor of the News, January 27, 1860. -- Rocky Mountain News, February 1,1860.

     28. The Kansas Press, Council Grove, February 20,1860.

     29. "Wide Awake" to the editor of the Times, February 29, 1860. -- Leavenworth Daily Times, March 1, 1860.

     30. "Progress" to the editor of the Times, no date. -- Ibid., March 2, 1860.

     31. Ibid., March 12, 1860.

     32. Ibid., March 15, 17, 1860; Weekly Leavenworth Herald, March 24, 1860.

     33. Lawrence Republican, March 8,1860.

     34. Ibid., March 29,1860.

     35. State Record, Topeka, March 31, 1860.

     36. Rocky Mountain News, March 21,1860.

     37. Leavenworth Daily Times, March 30,1860.

     38. Lawrence Republican, April 5,1860.

     39. State Record, April 7,1860.

     40. Manhattan Express, April 7,1860.

     41. "Keystone" to the editor of the Herald, April 14, 1860. -- Weekly Leavenworth Herald, April 21, 1860.

     42. Rocky Mountain News, April 25, 1860.

     43. Rocky Mountain Herald, Denver, May 5, 1860.

     44. Leavenworth Daily Times, May 16,1860.

     45. Weekly Leavenworth Herald, April 21,1860.

     46. Leavenworth Daily Times, May 19,1860.

     47. Ibid., May 18,1860.

     48. Letter to the editor of the News, May 6,1860. -- Rocky Mountain News, May 23,1860.

     49. Leavenworth Daily Times, May 21,1860.

     50. Ibid., May 19, 1860.

     51. Manhattan Express, May 19, 1860.

     52. State Record, May 19, 1860.

     53. Leavenworth Daily Times, May 23, 1860.

     54. Lawrence Republican, May 24,1860.

     55. State Record, May 26, 1860.

     56. Manhattan Express, May 26, 1860.

     57. Leavenworth Daily Times, May 29, 1860.

     58. Ibid., June 2, 1860.

     59. "United States Census, 1860," v. 10, p. 222. -- Archives division, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka; A.T. Andreas and W. G. Cutler, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago, 1883), p. 444.

     60. Leavenworth Daily Times, June 6, 1860.

     61. Ibid., June 16, 1860.

     62. Topeka Tribune, June 23, 1860; Manhattan Express, June 30, 1860.

     63. "J.R.F." to the editor of the Times, July 4, 1860. -- Leavenworth Daily Times, July 11, 1860.

     64. Ibid., July 23, 1860.

     65. James Brown to the editor of the Times, August 16, 1860. -- Ibid., August 28, 1860.

     66. H.T. Green to the editor of the Times, August 29, 1860. -- Ibid., September 10, 1860.

     67. Ibid., October 8, 1860.

     68. Ibid., October 17, 1860.

     69. Ibid., October 15, 1860.

     70. Ibid., March 23, 2861.

     71. H.T. Green and O.M. Tennison, Report and Map of the Superintendent and Engineer of the Smoky Hill Expedition ... (Leavenworth, 1861).

     72. Lawrence Republican, August 30, 1860.

     73. State Record, October 13, 1860; Manhattan Express, September 29, 1860.

     74. S. J. Willes to the editor of the Republican, October 8, 1860. -- Lawrence Republican, October 11, 1860.

     75. Leavenworth Daily Times, October 30, 1860.

     76. State Record, November 17, 1860.

     77. Johnston, op. cit., pp. 49, 62, 66.

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