The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #35931   Message #493644
Posted By: Lin in Kansas
27-Jun-01 - 11:45 PM
Thread Name: BS: Question for Old West history buffs
Subject: RE: BS: Question for Old West history buffs

John In Remote Kansas (JIRK) on LIK's cookie

One would think that having been raised on the banks of the Arkansas River in Kansas this would be easy
The modern maps show that following the Arkansas River would probably have been the simplest way to get to Leadville, but the history books I have at hand don't give a name for that trail.
As mentioned above, the Santa Fe Trail followed the Arkansas from about Great Bend, Kansas to Dodge City.
One of my old Jr Hi (now "middle school" I guess) history books implies that the early Santa Fe Trail may have continued along the river for a little further west. The later "commercial" trail (after 1860?) went more directly south from Dodge City. The later route is the one seen on most maps.
The Oregon Trail went roughly through the area, but was further north. The Oregon Trail followed the Missouri and Smoky Hill Rivers. The Oregon Trail was popular with gold rush travelers in 1849, but Colorado gold wasn't discovered (near Pikes Peak - Colorado Springs) until 1859. The "Pike's Peak or Bust" flag was popular then. The big strike at Central City was very soon after (later 1859), and much of the mountain area between Colorado Springs and Denver seems to have been settled soon after.
The Overland Trail that is so much remembered in song and other tradition never officially extended west of the Mississippi - although there were so many songs about it that travelers on almost any trail might have applied the name.
You might also run into references to The Mormon Trail, which came from "back east" and essentially joined with and became part of the Oregon Trail near Independence Missouri.
You haven't indicated when your great-grand daddy reached Leadville, but immigration into this area and points further west continued for a rather long time. The Homestead Act (1862) allowed people to actually own the ranch, and much of central Kansas and parts west were still being homesteaded in the early 1890s.
From Dodge City KS to Pueblo CO, US Highway 50 would be very close to any route that followed the Arkansas River.