Baldwin City, Kansas may be a simple, small dot on the map of Kansas, but contained in that little dot are numerous traces of history. On a drive through the streets of Baldwin City, you will find brown signs sprinkled throughout the town that indicate some sort of historical significance or landmark. One of these many signs marks the notorious Santa Fe Trail Crossing. You can use this sign to follow the same paths taken by historic American, Mexican, and French traders, entrepreneurs, and revolutionaries along the Santa Fe Trail.
The trail itself was established in 1822 in order to connect Independence, MO and Santa Fe, NM as a vital commercial highway route, but it was eventually taken over by trains.
This sign, near the Ivan L. Boyd Memorial Prairie Preserve, indicates the Santa Fe Trail’s originally crossing route over the road.
Baker University Biology Professor Ivan L. Boyd was instrumental in advising Douglas County to purchase and preserve land from the Santa Fe Trail. Hence, the termed Ivan L. Boyd Memorial Prairie Preserve which was renamed on his behalf. Here, you can see not only enjoy a pleasant walk through the beautiful scenery of the trail, but also find ruts from the trade route across the 16 acres of trail.
This bridge leads to 16-acre prairie where ruts in the ground show the trails of the past travelers.
A break on the route, Black Jack Springs campsite, became a popular stopping place for travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. This campsite is now more popularly known as Black Jack Battlefield for the historic events that took place in 1856 when John Brown began his armed war on slavery.
As a visitor of Black Jack Battlefield, you can stroll back through time and walk upon the very ground that this historic battle took place. Or maybe you are just here for the scenery. Visitors on Black Jack Battlefield and the Santa Fe Trail are able to journey through the beautiful nature park and appreciate destinations like Pate’s position, Captains Creek, John Brown’s position, the battle’s point of surrender, and more.
Guided tours are scheduled seasonally and can be found here.
The farmhouse is the starting point for the tour. It is open seasonally, or by appointment.
Kansas natives, forty-three-year-old Michael W. and his wife Tiffany relished in their experience at Black Jack Battlefield after enjoying a picnic nearby the trail.
“We were just in Lawrence for the weekend, so we decided to check this place out. I’m a huge history buff, so being in the same place where a huge part of Kansas history took place is awesome for me!”
Whether you’re a Kansas-local, or just passing through, the Black Jack Battlefield and Santa Fe Trail provide visitors with the chance to physically wander the very historical monuments many only read about in textbooks all while admiring the natural scenery. Surely, you cannot get that from just any museum.
Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park offers seven different membership packages for those who would like to donate and share their support for this fascinating historical landmark right here in Baldwin City.
Black Jack Battlefield is open all days of the year from dawn to dusk, though many visitors suggest the best season to enjoy the historic beauty is in fall.
For more information on Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park, or the Santa Fe Trail Crossing, please visit their websites listed below or check out their Facebook Page.
Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park
Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park Facebook Page
Santa Fe Trail Crossing- Douglas County
Santa Fe Trail Crossing- Douglas County Facebook Page