I met this afternoon, three returning Santa Fé trading-companies …. I stopped and conversed some time with one of the leading men of these companies. He was intelligent, notwithstanding his soiled and ragged costume, and appeared to be very candid in all his statements…. He said that the journey to Santa Fé and Chihuahua was one of great fatigue and hardship, as he knew, but that the journey to California was infinitely more so; that our lives would be shortened ten years by the trip, and before we returned, if we experienced such good fortune, our heads would be white, not with the frosts of age, but from the effects of exposure and extreme hardships. This was not very cheering information, and bidding him a polite good-day, we left him.

--- Edwin Bryant, 1846

Picture of the Shawnee Mission.Frantic drivers, freight haulers, minivans full of passengers and possessions, and traffic jams pack the highways of Johnson County. Wagons, mules and oxen created a similar scene 150 years ago.

Starting around 1821, Santa Fe traders traveled southwest for commerce. In the 1840s, emigrants heading to Oregon and California shared parts of the route through our area. Every spring, the vast emigrant migration to the west and the movement of traders to and from Santa Fe created this historic gridlock.

Even as urban development overtakes the rural landscape, traces of this history endure. Travelers’ experiences on the overland journey to the south for trade, or west for a better life, survive not only on the pages of their journals, but also in the physical places we see today. This exhibit highlights 10 of the many present day views of the route of historic overland trails in Johnson County.     next slide

Photography by Black and White Specialties
Ric Cummings, Owner and Photographer
Cassandra Chaffin, Associate Photographer
This exhibit was funded in part by the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund
and the Friends of Johnson County Museum
Return to online exhibit page
Return to the Exhibit homepage. Return to the Online Exhibits page. Go to the Shawnee Indian Agency page.
Trails Map - click on a number. Go to the Shawnee Methodist Mission page. Go to the Boones Fork page. Go to the Shawnee Mission Indian Agency page. Go to the Harmon Park page. Go to the Sampling Grove page. Go to the Flat Rock Creek page. Go to the Captain's Creek page. Go to the Elm Grove page. Go to the Lone Elm page. Go to the Trail Junction & Bull Creek page. More on California Rd. More on Ft. Leavenworth Military Road. More on the Oregon California Trail More on the Westport Route. More on the Independence Route More on the Santa Fe Trail.
1 Shawnee Indian Agency 7 Elm Grove
2 Harmon Park 8 Lone Elm
3 Shawnee Methodist Mission 9 Trail Junction & Bull Creek
4 Boones Fork 10 Captain's Creek
5 Sapling Grove 11 Onward
6 Flat Rock Creek 12 Acknowledgements