MEMORIES IN FOCUS: An old-time celebration years ago
A parade across Kansas, including along Main St. in Marion, marked in 1954 what was billed at the 100th anniversary of the historic Santa Fe Trail.
Nineteen towns along US-50N (now US-56) from Mission, Kansas, to the Colorado state line participated in the event.
Men were encouraged to remain unshaven and wear western garb while 26 women, each wearing pioneer costumes. competed to serve as Marion’s trail centennial queen.
The winner was Sarabel Wolf, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Wolf. Runners-up were Ann Davies, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Davies, and Mary Margaret Hannaford, daughter of Mrs. Roger Hannaford.
The Marion Record-Review of the time reported that the candidates “numbered among Marion’s prettiest and finest young ladies.” At a crowning ceremony in the city building, the “beautifully dressed” young women “thoroughly captivated the packed house with their charm and poise,” the paper reported.
The Santa Fe trail actually was considerably older than 100 years when its centennial was celebrated.
Pioneered by French explorer Pedro Vial in 1792, it generally followed routes established many years earlier by bands of Indians.
By the 1820s, Spanish, Mexican, and American frontiersmen had made it part of a trade network that linked Europe, New York, and St. Louis with Santa Fe and ultimately Mexico City via the connecting El Camino Real trail.
The Army used it in 1846 to invade New Mexico in the Mexican-American War. After the war, around 1854, settlers in covered wagons began using it migrate to the frontier.
What today is US-56 generally follows the route, which in reality went north of the present highway, from west of Lost Springs to Durham, passing near both Ramona and Tampa.
The trail remained a major artery until the mid-1870s with the opening of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad.
Ruts from the original trail are still visible west of where it treacherously crossed the Cottonwood River.
Last modified Dec. 13, 2018