“Certain things are an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and must be taken advantage of or lost forever.”
That was definitely the case with the recent 200th anniversary Santa Fe Trail Ride.
While far different from the original trail two centuries ago, the ride offered a glimpse of days long gone.
Only 11 miles from Bushong to Council Grove, the celebration ride was on the abandoned railroad bed trail. The Santa Fe Trail was said to have been nearby.
Fifty horseback riders were given the unique privilege of participating in the reliving of history. Fastest riders covered the route in about three hours while slower horses took somewhat longer.
Most participants seemed pleased that the trail this time was no longer. However, it gave an appreciation for how stressful long hours in covered wagons and horseback were for early day settlers.
Despite the slow daily travel of yesteryear, those moving West were facing virtually the unknown. Although a trail was apparent, they were unassured of water, food and encampment availability.
Today’s modern bicycle and walking trail is quite well maintained and virtually incomparable to that of former centuries.
Flint Hills grasslands, limited cropland, some timbers and nearby natural water sources were relatively lush for the season. They did bring a heartening sense of closeness to Mother Nature.
Cattle were grazing some pastures, however, sadly noteworthy there was little or no wildlife anywhere along the ride. No rabbits, squirrels, birds of any kind including sparrows, coyotes, deer or anything else were seen on the entire trail.
However, weeds and brush including plum thickets had obviously been sprayed with poison herbicides. They were all dead or heavily wilted making one question if the chemicals may have maltreated wildlife as well.
Specific historical celebrations just occur one time. Only photos Mom took of the Kansas Territorial Centennial in 1954 are a reflection of that celebration.
Not yet owning a horse, the 1961 Kansas Centennial was celebrated grudgingly marching in the parade with the grade school band. The nation’s 200th birthday in 1976 was enjoyed horseback riding in the Main Street parade.
Considerable hard work goes into planning such celebrations, and it is interesting how they have changed through the times. Each one is a very special time to be remembered forever.
Reminded of Proverbs 12:27: “He recognizes opportunities and seizes them.”