Great Osage Indian Trail
Early History of Trails
Historical trails, often called "traces" or "paths" contributed to the migration and settlement of large portions of the United States. Many trails were well established by the time Europeans immigrated to the colonies. The original 'travelers' on these trails were various types of wildlife as they moved from place to place in search of grazing lands, salt sources and fresh water. Native Americans were familiar with trails and utilized them for thousands of years prior to settlement by Europeans. The paths were also used to wage war, thus the phrase: "war path". Because they were often well worn, relatively easy to follow and led to grazing lands and fresh water Europeans utilized them as well on foot, horseback and with wagons. Many of the trails, or portions of them, were eventually utilized in the construction of roads and highways in modern times.
Native Americans, especially those of the Midwest and plains of the United States, were especially instrumental in the formation of some of the longer lasting and useful trails. Over time those trails became well-worn and used by pioneers and settlers as well because they were easy to find and somewhat easier to travel. The Great Osage Indian Trail (also called the Old Wire Road) is an example of such a path and contains parts of Route 66, Route 24 as well as the first section of the Santa Fe Trail. This trail was especially useful to settlers and pioneers to the western parts of the United States as it was developed. Latter Day Saints followed portions of the Great Osage Indian Trail as they pushed handcarts and walked to the Salt Lake Valley.
To commemorate the trail and its important role in the lives of native Americans, and the migration of pioneers and settlers, the Iroquois Chieftain, Jake Swamp, attended a ceremonial planting of a tree along the route in Independence Missouri in 1999. The tree is an Iroquois "Tree of Peace" and is planted on property owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and designated as a "Temple Site" An article published in 1979 in the LDS Church magazine tells about early Mormon pioneer travels along the trail called "Boone's Lick" and then along the Santa Fe/Great Osage Indian Trail leading from Franklin, Missouri to the western border of Missouri.