Schumacher Park highlights native prairie restoration highlighting for visitors the biodiversity that trail travelers saw along their journey. Though no ruts or swales survive at this location, the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails traversed east-west as the south end of the park. Imagine the pristine vista of untouched prairie, similar to what you see in the park today, that once graced the horizon as thousands of travelers headed west across this high prominence. Native plants were vital to 19th century overland travel.
Prairie grasses were the fuel that overland travelers needed in order to feed their livestock. Their oxen and other livestock were pioneers’ mode of transportation, so they had to care for their beasts of burden. Understanding the life cycle of ancient prairie grasses and hedges was critical for the emigrants’ survival and ultimate success in trekking west for 800-2,000 miles. If emigrants headed out west too early in the spring, there would not be sufficient vegetation growing to sustain their oxen. If they left too late, they could face winter weather in the mountains of the West.
Donated in 1993 by Lou and Topper Schumacher to the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, Schumacher Park was dedicated on August 29, 2000. Outdoor interpretive exhibits and wayside markers focusing on the diversity plant life of the Santa Fe Trail are available to visitors. The park includes a 1908 Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Santa Fe Trail marker. And then there’s the expansive view. The park is on the Blue Ridge at one of the highest elevations in Jackson County overlooking the Cerner Trails Office Campus and affording a view of downtown Kansas City many miles away…very spectacular!