Santa Fe Trail group meets in Marion

Alford and Helen Erickson, formerly from Emporia State University, shared their research and photographs about the Santa Fe Trail at the quarterly meeting of the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association held Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Kingfisher Inn east of Marion.

The Ericksons have researched and photographed the famous trail from its original beginning at Old Frankfort, Mo., then west over 400 miles that the trail traversed from east to southwest Kansas, on through the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and finally to Santa Fe, N.M.

The couple have identified 96 permanent granite, limestone and metal markers and monuments in Kansas which designate the trail. It passes through 21 counties across Kansas, including many miles through northern Marion County, where the Cottonwood Crossing is located. The trail was actively used from 1822 to 1872.

The trail, which was also called ?The Santa Fe Road? during the early days, was an important civilian commerce route and was also used by hundred of pioneer settlers in their migration west.

Manufactured goods such as hardware, tools, knives, cloth and canvas were sold there. Raw materials, including western animal furs, hides, wool, and Mexican mules were brought and lead to the Kansas City, Mo., area and sold to American entrepreneurs.

Vernon Lohrentz, North Newton, completed his two years as president of the local chapter. The newly elected officers and directors for 2000 are: Dale Brooks, Newton, president; George A. Schutte, Lehigh, vice president; Gil Michel, Newton, secretary; William Silverstrand, McPherson, treasurer; John E. Wiebe, Newton, director; and John V. Dick, North Newton, director.

Several Marion County residents attending the meeting, including Phyllis Melton, Marion; George A. Schutte, Lehigh; and Paul and Marcella Ediger, James Peters, Don and Lenora Klassen, Willis and Ruth Penner, and Raymond Wiebe, all of Hillsboro.

The quarterly meetings are open to the public. The Cottonwood Crossing Chapter includes eastern McPherson County and Marion and Harvey counties. About 40 people attend the meeting.

The local chapter, together with financial assistance from the marion County Board of Commissioners, has been able to erect the large trails crossing monument on the McPherson-Marion county line, plus nine engraved limestone pillars along the mile roads from Durham, west to Canton, in recent years.

Erecting additional limestone markers in northeast Marion County is planned for the future.

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