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Feb 22, 2010 | Marshall County is Trails Capital of Kansas
The Kansas Sampler Foundation announced that the most recent addition to the "Capitals of Kansas" list is Marshall County as the Trails Capital of Kansas.

The many trails that went through Marshall County helped facilitate the migration to the West. Among the nineteen trails listed on their nomination were the Oregon Trail, the Pony Express and the Central Branch Railroad.

As a member of the Marshall County Development Corporation, the Marshall County Railroad Historical Society and the Waterville Preservation Society, Ann Walter wrote an impressive nomination that outlined the reasons why Marshall County deserved the designation. Beth Skinner assisted. Walter said, "I am convinced that this designation will draw the attention of tourists and guests to our historical county, thus benefiting our rural communities."

Trails that crossed Marshall County included Otoe Indian Trail, Sublette Trace (forerunner of the Oregon Trail), St. Joseph to California Road, Independence California Road of the Oregon Trail, Elwood to California Road, Fort Leavenworth-Fort Kearny Military Road, Mormom Trail, Pony Express Route, Ben Holladay's Overland Stage Line, Atchison to Pike's Peak Trail, Great Overland Trail (Ft. Leavenworth to Salt Lake City), Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express (stage route), Central Overland California, Oketo Cut-Off, cattle trail to Waterville, Central Branch Railroad, St. Joseph/Grand Island Railroad, Blue Valley Railroad (became Union Pacific Blue Valley), and KC/Northwestern Railroad.

Visitors can learn more at Trails Park Historical Site . If coming into Marysville on U.S. 77 from the south, there is a turn into the park at a designated marker just prior to crossing the overpass into Marysville.

More than seventy "capitals of Kansas" are listed on the Kansas Sampler Foundation website at www.kansassampler.org.

The complete nomination for the

Trails Capital of Kansas - Marshall County

As compiled by Ann Walter

Quote from Oretha Ruetti's, It Happened Here-Stories from Marshall County, KS.

"Long before white men began their cross-country travels, Indian trails were traversing Marshall County north to south, northwest to southeast."

"Several trails crossed the Big Blue at Marshall's Ferry: Ft Leavenworth-Ft. Kearny Military Road, the St. Joseph to California Road (a branch of the Oregon Trail), the Mormon Trail, the Pony Express Route, Ben Holladay's Overland Stage Line from St. Joseph, the Atchison to Pike's Peak Trail, the Elwood to California Road and the Otoe Indian Trail. Several of the trails overlapped and followed about the same route."

Early in the 1800s, parties of trappers, traders and missionaries crossed Marshall County by foot and mule. In 1827, men by the names of Sublette and Harris passed through Marshall County on the north/south path through the Black Vermillon Valley to the Kanza Indian Village at the mouth of the Big Blue in Manhattan. Thus, the "Sublette" Trace became the forerunner of the Oregon Trail.

In 1839, Indian Trader, James McCloskey, crossed the Blue River at Marysville.

In 1842, Lt. John C. Fremont, U.S. topographical Engineer, camped in Marshall County on the way to explore the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. He came to a natural ford on the Big Blue River, and that ford became Independence Crossing.

From 1843-1869, the Oregon Trail was the "largest peacetime migration in the history of the world". In 1841, the Bartleson Party first pioneered this trail. (Trails Park signage) The black slash across the prairie was the Independence California Road of the Oregon Trail.

In 1848, Colonel Stephen W. Kearney laid out a trail from Fort Leavenworth to the junction of the Independence Road, and the St. Joe Road west of the Big Blue. Then in 1848, Fort Kearny was established and this trail became part of the Fort Leavenworth-Ft. Kearny military road.

In 1849, The Great Overland Trail from Ft. Leavenworth to Salt Lake City was survey by Lt. Stansburg.

In 1849, an estimated 3/4 of the Oregon Trail traffic was using the St. Joe Road. This road was used to cross Northeast Kansas to reach the Big Blue camping site at Robidoux Creek or Vermillion Creek through Logan Township. (Ruetti) This "Old Road" was moved to the Military Road which was shorter and in better shape. In, 1852, the old Military Road was lined with emigrants and gold seekers. It finally became on of the most important stage and freight wagon roads in the country. (An Affair with the Past). "These two roads eventually became one road with many names -- The St. Joe to California branch of the Oregon Trail, The Pony Express route, Overland Road to California and the Ben Holladay's overland stage from Atchison to Sacramento." (It Happened Here)

1849-1850's, Brigham Young led thousands of exiled Mormons across Marshall County crossing 6 miles below Marysville. Later known as The Mormon Trail.

In the 1850's, the Express stage route, the Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express, laid out a new road which cut off 65 miles from Atchison to Denver. The Road was called Parallel Road which followed the 1st standard parallel across Kansas. It did not win favor with the express stage coaches, but did lead to the eventual building of the Central Branch Railroad.

"In 1852, the old Military Road was lined with emigrants and gold seekers. It finally became one of the most important stage and freight wagon roads in the country." (An Affair with the Past)

In 1854, Louis Tremble, a Frenchman, built a bridge where emigrants paid to cross. It became known as the French Ford.

The steep banks of the Big Blue created a serious problem. Frank Marshall was granted permission build a ferry and trade with the Indians in 1852.

On April 3, 1860, the Pony Express used the Military Road through Marshall County and operated for about 18 months. The first rider, Johnny Fry arrived in Marysville early in the morning of April 4, 1860.

In 1860, the Central Overland California and Pike's Peak Express stagecoach rolled through Marshall County from Atchison to Denver.

In 1861, the first daily overland mail stage coach passed through Marshall County at Guittard's Station.

July 1, 1861 to fall of 1862, the overland stage ran daily on the old military road via Guittard's Station.

From October 1862 until March 1863, due to conflict with the County Seat of Marysville and Guittard and Holladay, the Oketo Cut-Off was developed as a shorter and better route than via Marysville. It was short lived.

In 1867: "Thus the railroad. Central Branch, which goes down into history as an operator of the first regularly scheduled passenger train into Marshall County west of the Missouri River is the last to clickety-clack into the sunset". Back in the 1870-80's, Marshall County might well have been called the headquarters for railroad promotion. (An Affair With the Past)

In 1868, the cattle trail from Abilene extended to Waterville. Stockyards were built to accommodate drovers of Texas Longhorn Cattle and then the cattle were shipped to Chicago.

From 1880 to 1881, the Otoe-Missouri Trail was the passage along the Big Blue by Indians being relocated.

In 1867, the St. Joseph/Grand Island Railroad reached Marshall County and Marysville in 1871,

On January 6, 1871, the first carload of freight arrived in Marysville.

In 1879, the Marysville Blue Valley Railroad (later the Union Pacific Blue Valley) was built and traveled through Beatrice to Marysville, to Blue Rapids, to Irving to Manhattan.

In 1880's, the KC, Wyandotte, Northwestern came to be called the KC/Northwestern and was built in the northeast part of the county.

1906 began construction of the Topeka Cut-Off from Marysville to Topeka. Construction ended in 1910 and "paved the way to become a more important railroad point in this region." (It Happened Here).


Oretha Ruetti's, It Happened Here-Stories from Marshall County, Kansas

Byron and Eulalia Guise's, An Affair with the Past

Don Fitzgerald's, Peaceful Valley

Trails Park Signage, Marysville, Kansas