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Rut Nut: Finding the Santa Fe Trail

Well, we found the sign but couldn't see the ruts (Scarborough photo)During our visit to the town of Council Grove in the Kansas Flint Hills, I was determined to see some of the original ruts left by the wagons that set out from here to travel the Santa Fe trail.

A helpful guide at the Kaw Mission House told me that there were ruts to see both east and west of town, but from her description, one set was better marked than the other.

Even though that one was a little out of our way, I decided to drive out and see it.

My teenage daughter and fellow traveler was of no use; she was zonked out, still recovering from her all-night reading of the new Harry Potter book.

I drove to the west and found the helpful “Santa Fe Trail Ruts” highway sign that pointed down a unpaved side road. Leaving clouds of dust behind the minivan, I drove hopefully for about a mile, and then found the sign.

Like a complete geek, I jumped out with my camera to look over a fence at….a lot of grass.

The ruts are actually big dents or impressions (called “swales,” about 20 feet wide) in the ground, since the wagons would travel 3 or 4 across. You’d think I could see a big sunken area, but no luck. Apparently the ruts are much easier to make out at certain times of year when the vegetation is not so thick.

Grateful that I had not awoken Her Grogginess just to look at more Kansas grass, I laughed at myself, took a picture of the sign, and for the next few days I was happy to drive a minivan that had bits of old Santa Fe Trail dust clinging to the rear bumper.

Technorati tags: travel, family travel, Santa Fe Trail, Kansas, Council Grove