Bicentennial celebrated for historic Santa Fe Trail

After 200 years and countless travelers, a celebration commemorates the Santa Fe Trail's bicentennial.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:31 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LARNED, Kan. (KWCH) - After 200 years and countless travelers, the historic Santa Fe Trail is being honored to commemorate those who helped to shape Kansas history. A map and 19th century memorabilia fill the Santa Fe Trail Center near Larned, a place dedicated to keeping the trade route’s rich history alive.

“This was a trail of opportunity, it as a trail of commerce. It brought multiple nationalities together and multiple crews together, so this allowed, eventually, communities to spring up along the Santa Fe Trail,” said Santa Fe Trail Center Director Seth McFarland.

Larned is among those communities that “sprung up” along the trail.

“We’re the halfway point of the Santa Fe Trail, and actually Pawnee Rock, which is just seven miles from here was the geographic center of the trail,” McFarland said.

Pawnee Rock was used as a waypoint for travelers along the Santa Fe Trail, a rout that connected Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

McFarland said the importance of the trail spurred the Santa Fe Trail Association to preserve as much of the trail as possible.

“In 1986, the Santa Fe Trail Association was formed. In 1987, it was recognized by Congress as a national historic trail,” McFarland said. “So, now its purpose is for preservation and to tell the story.”

He said it’s a story worth keeping for generations to come.

“A lot of our daily life is following portions of the trail, and that’s our highways have followed that trail, our railroads have followed that trail,” McFarland said. “So in many aspects it’s still alive,”