1030. Lone Elm Campground

Large, roofed picnic area with a fireplace, surrounded by flowers and signs.
Lone Elm Park

This site, originally known as Round Grove by Santa Fe Trail traders, became a famous frontier trail campsite and rendezvous point for overlanders. Named because of the campsite’s stand of trees that quickly dwindled from a grove to when only one elm remained. From this area they jumped off into an unknown wilderness of grass. The Lone Elm, often described in emigrant journals, was one of the last wooded areas emigrants might see for many miles as they walked across the western plains. Travelers always looked for trees and shrubs; they generally grew then along vital water sources.


Wagons passed by this site from around 1823 to about 1861 with the beginning of the Civil War, which ended long-distance trail traffic from Independence. Soon they would be at the point of no return, not turning around unless some unfortunate incident might caused a delay or end in starting west. Emigrants to Oregon and California especially had to time their travel to pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains before the first snows. 

Edmund Hinde, wrote in his diary on April 26, 1850, "About 7 o'clock we decamped on our way for the Blue River. On the road we discovered the Hind Axeltree had given away which was in one sence [sic.] fortunate had it broke when out from all timber we would have been in a nice predicament. Altho [sic.] broke we took in our food and crossed Blue River and sent back for a new one. . . . . We are now only three miles from the plains and then we leave all settlements." 

If this had happened days or weeks out on the trail, the consequences could have been devastating.

For more information:

National Register of Historic Places

Santa Fe Trail Research

Historical Marker Database - Lone Elm Campground