Josiah Gregg (1806-50) blazed the Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail in 1840 as a shorter route between the U.S. and New Mexico. He crossed this site on March 17, 1840, while returning to Arkansas from a trading expedition to Santa Fe and Chihuahua. In a book, "Commerce of the Prairies", published in 1844, Gregg recommended the new route, which paralleled the Canadian River. Over 2,000 California-bound gold seekers traveled it in 1849. The largest wagon train of that year was accompanied by U.S. Army troops commanded by Captain Randolph B. Marcy (1812-87), who made a survey of the trail for a proposed national wagon road. Marcy's party crossed this site on June 9, 1849.
The extensive use of the Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail in the early 1850s caused it to be considered as a favorable route for a transcontinental railroad. Lt. A. W. Whipple of the Army Corps of Engineer surveyed a possible route in the summer of 1853. By the late 1850s, emigrants were traveling a more southern road through El Paso, which was eventually to become the southern railroad route, and the Fort Smith-Santa Fe Trail fell into disuse and was finally abandoned.>br>
In many places on the Plains, the wagon ruts are still visible in the undisturbed prairie sod.