Bullwhacker Central Section Activity Text

Green Junior Wagon Master Central Section Patch showing a buffalo
The activities for the Bullwhacker Central Section patch are below. To earn your patch, complete these activities. Use the Junior Wagon Master Story Map to read each site's supporting historical information.

You will need a notepad or extra drawing paper for several activities.

Hidden in Words

1. The house of one of the founders of Council Grove is open to the public. Whose house is this?

_______________ _______________ (two words)

2. Legends told of a cache under this tree where people on the trail left letters to loved ones.

It was called Post Office _______________ (one word).

3. One of three large DAR statues honoring women who traveled the Santa Fe Trail. Name this statue.

_______________ of the _______________ (two words)

4. The last opportunity to buy goods before leaving “civilization” was called

_______________ _______________ Store. (two words)

5. Kaw children from the reservation came to this school:

_______________ _______________ . (two words)

6. Along this river Santa Fe Trail traders could find the last stand of hardwood trees. Here they would rendezvous and make repairs or extra parts for their wagons:

_______________ _______________ . (two words)

7. Antonio Giovanni Augustini was from Italy. While in Council Grove he lived in this location called:

_______________ _______________ . (two words) Read about his life on the exhibits.

8. This large statue represents the Native Americans who lived in this area during trail days:

_______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ . (four words)

9. This jail, built during the later days of the trail, was for the lawbreakers in Council Grove. Find the name of this old jail:

_______________ . (one word)

10.This is the remains of a tree under which the treaty between the U.S. Government, represented by George Sibley, and the Osage Indians agreed to allow traders to cross their land.

_______________ _______________ . (two words)

11.This bell warned settlers of Council Grove of impending Indian attacks. When it rang the settlers would go to the stone house which is currently the Post Office Oak Museum.

_______________ _______________ _______________ . (three words)


It’s All in the Name

Create a name poem that describes the Lost Spring site. Each line begins with the letters shown and relates to Lost Spring.












Do the Math

Read the kiosk that tells the history of this crossing.

1. Trading ranches sprang up all along the trail. Why were these important?

Read the information about the Moore’s trading ranch.

2. According to Moore’s report, how many men passed this area in the 1865 season?

3. How many wheeled vehicles?

4. How many animals?

5. How many total men, vehicles and animals passed this point?

6. [not in text version]

7. If you do the math for the number of men per wheeled wagon, you will find that there was one man per wagon. How does this actual number compare with what you would have imagined? Explain why.


Trails and the Railroad

1. From __________ to __________, both the Santa Fe and Chisholm trails were in use and possibly crossed each other near this intersection.

2. How many years was this?

3. Explain how the railroad affected both trails.


Wagon Master Challenge

Remember what you have learned about the trail. Now use your creativity to record a memory you have from your adventures on the Santa Fe Trail. You can express yourself in pictures, songs, poems, or journal entries. It is up to you.


300 Years Separates Two Adventurers

Although nearly 300 years separated Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and William Becknell, “Father of the Santa Fe Trail.” Yet they have many things in common. Use the Venn Diagram below to record the similarities and differences in the two men. The word bank at the bottom of the page may be helpful. Feel free to add more words to your diagram.

Draw two large overlapping circles.

Label one as Coronado and one as Becknell.

Write the words or phrases below inside the circle it belongs to. Some belong in both; write those in the overlapped area.

went to an unknown land

brought no wagons

wore chain mail and helmet

hoped to get rich



from Spain

secret mission

sent by king

from Missouri

hundreds of men

few companions

follow Indian trails

took Indian captives

made a second trip


Walking Along Trail Ruts

Walk through the ruts. After the last rut near the fence, turn left and walk toward the trees. With your back to the trees look to the right. Can you see the buffalo wallow? A buffalo wallow is the remains of a place where buffalo rolled in the dust to scratch their backs. The trail split here and went around the wallows. Sketch a map of the area, include the ruts and the buffalo wallow and anything else that you see.


Preserving the Trail

Pawnee Rock is a Kansas State Historic Site. It has been preserved by the Kansas Historical Society to honor the men and women who traveled the trail and endured the hardships of the frontier.

1. Why is it important for people to make an effort to preserve places such as Pawnee Rock?

2. What can you do to help preserve the landmark?

3. The National Park Service, Santa Fe Trail Association, and the Kansas Historical Society each work to preserve the Santa Fe Trail. Choose one to learn more about online using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Which one did you choose?


Santa Fe Trail Center - Visit the Museum!

After viewing the exhibits in the museum, make a tri-fold brochure that tells the next visitor what they might see related to the Santa Fe Trail and the importance of the Santa Fe Trail Center. Be sure to title your brochure, include your name, and the date of your visit. Put the brochure in the pocket of your folder.


Fort Larned - Visiting a National Historic Site

Stop at the visitors center and pick up a Fort Larned Junior Ranger booklet. Ask one of the rangers to sign this page. Enjoy your visit to the fort and work on the Junior Ranger booklet as part of the requirement for the Junior Wagon Master Program.

Signature of Fort Larned Staff Member:


Tracking the Trail

Walk to the kiosk to learn more history of the trail. Look at the swales or ruts that are visible at this place. These were made by both Anglo and Mexican trade caravans. Thousands of wagons have cross this land and left their imprint in the land. It is hard for us to imagine the large number of wagons and men that regularly crossed the prairie between Missouri and Santa Fe and back again. This example of a caravan will give you an idea of the size of some of these wagon trains.

In the summer of 1829, the first military escort marched from Ft. Leavenworth. The escort had 200 infantrymen, 20 heavy wagons, and four carts pulled by oxen. The caravan they were protecting entered Mexico as they crossed the Arkansas River west of this site headed to Santa Fe. The military remained in this area for more than three months awaiting the return of the traders. Finally in October, the 96 traders returned along with 16 Spanish refugees who had joined them. They also brought 30 wagons, and 2000 head of horses, mules, and donkeys to sell when they returned home. Escorting them back to America was a Mexican force of 200 men. All of the people met on the American side of the river and spent two days celebrating – eating, hunting buffalo, showing their skills with horses, and other activities.

1. How many people were at the get-together?

2. How many animals did the traders bring from Mexico?

3. How many vehicles (wagons, carts, etc.)?

This is just one caravan out of the many hundreds that went back and forth along the Santa Fe Trail for 60 years. That is why there are so many places along the 900-mile trail where you can still see ruts. In areas where the land has been cultivated for wheat or other crops the ruts or swales are gone.

4. Why don’t automobiles traveling to Santa Fe today leave ruts like this?


Last updated: February 7, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

National Trails Intermountain Region
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
PO Box 728

Santa Fe, NM 87504


(505) 988-6098

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