Wagon Bed Springs on the Santa Fe Trail

S on Hwy 25 8 miles, take turn-off 3.5 miles on Wagon Bed Springs Rd, Ulysses, KS 67880
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The route followed by most travelers on the Santa Fe Trail prior to the Mexican War. The springs were located on the most dangerous stretch of the journey to Santa Fe. Not only were the springs a welcome site to thirsty travelers, but they also served as a watering spot for immense herds of buffalo and prairie animals as well as for Native Americans in the area.

Near Lower Cimarron Springs in 1831, noted western explorer and fur trader, Jedediah Smith, leading a caravan of 74 men, teams, wagons and pack mules on the Santa Fe Trail early in the spring, met his demise near the Lower Springs of the Cimarron River. After three days without water, men and animals were desperate. Jedediah Smith and Tom Fitzpatrick left the halted caravan and began to search for the Spring. They separated and the members of the wagon trail never saw Smith again.

Not until the expedition had reached Santa Fe was Jedediah Smith's fate known. Jedediah had happened upon a hunting party of Comanche Indians waiting for buffalo to come to water. Smith tried to communicate with them, but they were only interested in his horse and his guns. Jedediah Smith and the Chief of the hunting party both were killed in the area of the Springs.

More than 500 men and officers of the Mormom Battalion camped at Lower Cimarron Springs, September 19, 1846. The men and officers were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who had volunteered to fight in the War of 1846 against Mexico. They had pledged their army pay to help finance the establishment of the church and its members in Utah.

The Mormon Battalion was not required to wear the army uniform, and they were not furnished mounts. Most of them marched on foot all the way from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe over the Cimarron Cut-off, then to California. One such group spent several days camped at Lower Spring, awaiting much-needed supplies.

Annual wildflower tours of the area are held the end of May and first part of June. Tours by appointment.

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