Last updated: January 24, 2023
Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Picnic Shelter/Pavilion
The land always remembers. At the Santa Fe Trail Tracks we catch a glimpse of the memory of traders crossing the Trail in search of opportunity. For 60 years, this prairie sod was torn by the hooves of mules, oxen, and horses, and compacted by the weight of the large freight wagons they pulled.
Plains Indians crossed this path as well, the land their home. Cheyenne, Apache, Kiowa-Apaches, and Arapahoe Indians roamed here. As more and more Santa Fe Trail travelers passed through the lands of the Plains Indians, an uneasy tension developed. Friendly trade, wary suspicion, plunder, or bloodshed could result from any encounter.
Soldiers and temporary fortifications protected trading caravans as early as 1847, but isolation and lack of supplies led to their abandonment by 1854. Fort Dodge, established in 1865, was the area’s first permanent fort. You can still visit the Fort today. With its construction came a series of changes that eventually made it impossible for Plains Indians to live their traditional way of life.
The site of the Santa Fe Trail Tracks also contains the remains of the Eureka Irrigation Canal (Stoule Canal). Built in the 1880s by Asa T. Soule, a prominent Dodge resident, the canal is seen as an engineering marvel of the 19th century. The canal was intended to irrigate farmlands north of Dodge City, but failed when a prolonged drought and similar projects lowered the Arkansas River’s water level.
Location (North side of US Hwy 50, 11 miles west of Dodge City)