Here, the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon and California trails diverged. Then, depending on their destination, emigrants would continue southwest to Santa Fe, as they had since 1821; or, they would turn northwesterly towards Oregon or California. Dedicated in 2008, this is the junction where the Oregon and California trails split from the Santa Fe Trail.
While the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a two-way route of commerce between the United States and Mexico, the Oregon and California tails carried emigrants relocating from their homelands to new, western territories. As wagons funneled to and converged upon communities in Jackson County at Missouri’s western border, the multitudes of people did their best to form wagon companies and organized rules for a safe passage west.
Each spring, all travelers would rush southwest towards this junction before taking the appropriate ‘exit’ to their preferred route. By this time, their wagon trains were formed…although not all stayed together as they progressed west. The last decision before ‘jumping off’ was to choose the appropriate route. Those heading northwest may have never returned east. Those heading southwest to Santa Fe often made the trip many times, hauling trade goods to and from Santa Fe.