The Santa Fe Trail continued from Morris County into Marion County, Kansas, a mile and a quarter south of the county’s northeast corner to Lost Spring, a valuable source of water for trail travelers. It was also used as a trading ranch, a stage station, and a campground. The spring that still flows today is located 2.3 miles west of the town of Lost Springs on the north side of a paved road. Wagon ruts are visible near the small creek crossing on the south side of the paved road.
From here, the road passed in a westerly direction near the present towns of Ramona and Tampa, dropping southwesterly to the Cottonwood Creek Crossing about one mile west of the present-day town of Durham.
This site was a significant campsite on the Santa Fe Trail but was widely known as a difficult crossing because of the steep banks and the occasional high water. There were several instances where wagon trains were caught in blizzards, and livestock and human lives were lost. This was also the site of a stage station and the most significant trading ranch west of Council Grove. Today, nothing remains of the crossing or the ranch, but a few wagon ruts may still be seen northeast of Cottonwood Creek, and there is an outstanding segment of ruts southwest of this stream.
The trail continued southwest and passed out of the county at a point directly east of the present town of Canton in McPherson County.
See Marion County Sante Fe Trail Tour HERE.
© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated April 2022.
Cottonwood Crossing/Moore’s Ranch
Santa Fe Trail – Pathway to the Southwest