National Geographic : 1952 Apr
463 Hays Cowboys, Big and Little, Need Fancy Boots for Rodeos and "Goin' to Town" Western Kansas boys tread the footsteps of immortals-Generals Custer, Sherman, and Sheridan, Wild Bill Hickok, and Buffalo Bill Cody (page 487). They walk streets where outlaws fought pitched battles. tory of present-day Kansas were Coronado's party of Spaniards, northbound from Mexico in 1541 in their search for the Seven Cities of Cibola.* They didn't find the mythical cities, but their report described, among other things, an animal recognizable as the buffalo. Aborigine Meets Parisian The French explorer Etienne de Bourgmont came up the Smoky Hill River in 1724 to make a treaty and establish trade with the Comanches. Impressed, he declared this the "most beautiful land in the world." On his return to France, De Bourgmont took with him eight braves and the daughter of a Missouri chief. Received in Paris by royalty, they danced at the opera and the theater and certainly were the first redskins ever allowed to hunt in the Bois de Boulogne! To them the highly perfumed Parisians "smelled like alligators." Before passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, by which Congress established the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, few settlers stopped off in Kansas. The lure of California gold urged them farther westward. The Kaw was one of the gateways to western trails. The old Santa Fe Trail crossed the southern part of the Territory, and the southern branch of the Oregon Trail paralleled the Kaw before turning north to follow the Platte River (map, page 465). Pack mules and horses transported freight to Santa Fe prior to 1824, when wagons came into general use. By 1859 overland freight ing had become a tremendous business on the western trails. The wagons, made in Pitts burgh, had a capacity of a ton and a half. Eight or ten oxen or mules pulled them. The Concord coaches, made in Concord, New Hampshire, cost $1,000 each. That was a large sum in those days, but the coaches had to be big and strong. A con * See "Mapping Our Changing Southwest," by Fred erick Simpich, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, De cember, 1948.