This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail, the historic commercial highway that wound its way from Missouri to Santa Fe, N.M., between 1821 and 1880, passing through what is now Great Bend. Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said plans are in the works here, and all along the route, to mark this occasion.
“It’s been something I’ve been working on all year with a group in our region.” She was referring to the Quivira Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association which includes Barton, Rice and McPherson counties.
Various activities to observe this occasion are planned throughout this area, she said.
Hayes has prepared a small, pocket-sized booklet, or passport, featuring various historic sites along the trail as it wends its way through the Quivira Chapter area. There are museums, but most off-the-beaten path spots feature little more than a stone marker or plaque.
But, all weave together to tell the story of the trail’s importance, she said. Back roads around Galva, Elyria, Windom, Chase, Lyons and Pawnee Rock are part of this tapestry.
The book includes pictures, brief descriptions and a quick response, QR, code to provide more information. There is also an area for a stamp denoting the site was visited.
“It’s kind of fun,” she said. “So, make your trip along the trail in 2021.”
Then, on April 17, there will be a presentation at the Barton County Historical Society. Also, local schools are participating in the Read Across the Santa Fe Trail program with different books in the schools and the Great Bend Public Library.
“There’s some fun events and things that we’re trying to do to help celebrate that,” she said. More activities may be announced at a later date.