Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Ruts of the Santa Fe Trail: The Aubry Trail Cut Off — By Jim Womack


Special thanks to Jim Womack for sharing spectacular photos as well as the following about the historical Santa Fe Trail  which passed through Baca County:

One of the few remaining places you can see the wagon wheel ruts on the Santa Fe Trail; this is the Aubry Cutoff a few miles southeast of Campo, Colorado used in the 1850s. Original marking stone in pictures.  Excerpt from an old research paper about Santa Fe Trail-

One such branch of the trail divided from the main trail at a point about twenty miles west of the 100th meridian (presently the sight of Cimarron, Kansas), while the regular route continued on westward to Bent’s Fort in Bent County, Colorado. The Cimarron Cutoff, as it was called, is also known as the water scrape. The supply of water on the Cimarron Trail was notably scarce. After leaving water on the Arkansas River, travelers had to cover sixty-six miles until they again reached water, this time at a point on the Cimarron River. Nevertheless, the Cimarron Cutoff became extremely popular. Even though it was dry and subject to Indian attacks, it was considerably shorter than the regular route and this feature was highly prized by the traders. They wanted as short a route as possible to the wealth of Santa Fe and then wanted the fastest route home again so they could reload their wagons and go after more money. Francois Xavier Aubry- A dedicated young man who helped to make the West more accessible to the East was one who searched the area along the Santa Fe Trail to find an even faster and safer route to Santa Fe, and he continued to use this new route on all his trading ventures to Santa Fe thereafter. The shortcut he established was more accessible to water and there was less Indian trouble along it than on the regular Cimarron Cutoff. This cutoff, known as Aubry’s Route, an army fort and a town named in his honor, and Aubry himself combine to make one of the most interesting stories of the settlement of the West.

Ruts of the Santa Fe Trail Aubrey cutoff

I love the comments from Jim’s post in one of our Baca County Facebook groups who commented on Jim’s post as well.  Stephanie Hund reminds us of the how hardy those travelers were:

This is so awe inspiring! I remember looking at those ruts, thinking about the hard journey so many made along that trail.

Ginger Hartman’s comment makes me think we don’t always recognize history so it is important to record it, share and passed it down:

I always thought wagon ruts looked like a field road; however, not far from me in Kansas on the Santa Fe Trail, we have Charlie’s Ruts, where the ruts are harder for me to see. The wagons traveled at least four abreast so there are these strips of depressed ground where the wagons went and swells between the strips. Here is a link if you want to see the difference.

Finally, I have added a link to more information and maps of the Aubry Route here.

Thanks again for reminding us of a great piece of Baca County History.

santa fe trail marker
Santa Fe Trail Marker

One response to “Ruts of the Santa Fe Trail: The Aubry Trail Cut Off — By Jim Womack”

Leave a Reply