I am a Virginian, born in the southwestern part of the state just across the state line from Mount Airy, NC. The Santa Fe Trail brought me to Kansas. Not literally, of course, because the Trail does not go to Virginia--not directly, at least.
The epic struggles of Bleeding Kansas played out on the big screen in the 1940 film classic Santa Fe Trail. The larger than life John Brown, the young Army officers serving side by side but soon to become enemies in our great Civil War, the man building a railroad across the West--these epic characters met on the Santa Fe Trail.
When I moved to Kansas as a non-traditional student at Washburn University, I had plans to return to the East. But one day, while walking through Historic Topeka Cemetery, I stumbled, quite literally, over the grave marker of Cyrus K. Holliday. He was known to me only as a character in that movie, the man who founded the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. I stood reeling at the realization that all those larger than life characters and events had occurred here, right here, that the Santa Fe Trail lay just beyond that hillside. The course of my life was changed.
I studied the eastern miles of the Trail, then ventured westward, logging more miles and learning more stories, meeting more larger than life characters along the way. I realized that the Trail does, in fact, lead to Virginia, and to Pennsylvania, and to Massachusetts, and to Arizona, and California, and all points in between. While the actual route lies in five states, there is no place without a connection to the Santa Fe Trail.
The Santa Fe Trail 200 will not happen in one place or on one day but will be held throughout 2021 at sites all along the Trail. We encourage communities to incorporate the Trail story into their annual events. The 2021 symposium to be held at Bent's Fort will highlight the cultural as well as the commercial exchanges that occurred as myriad peoples came together to trade.
I am so very proud to chair this commemoration, to be working with such dedicated and knowledgeable and passionate people. Join us for an epic journey. The Santa Fe Trail Lives On!
More about Deb:
Deb Goodrich is a journalist, historian and television host. She serves as the Garvey (Texas) Foundation Historian in Residence at the Fort Wallace Museum, Wallace, KS. She has authored numerous books and articles and loves the military and Plains Tribes' history of the Santa Fe Trail. Deb has appeared in numerous documentaries on the History Channel, Discover, American Heroes Channel, and the American Experience on PBS. She has also appeared on C-Span and is one of the distinguished historians who participate in ranking the presidents for the C-Span periodic evaluations.
Deb has hosted Around Kansas, a weekly television show airing throughout Kansas and surrounding states and online. A former radio talk show host, she consulted with the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, for media training. She writes a weekly column for Grass and Grain, an agricultural weekly serving the Great Plains. She is the former resident historian for Historic Topeka Cemetery where she lived on the property in the 1856 Crane Home. She has served on numerous boards and is past president of the Shawnee County (KS) Historical Society and the Kansas City Civil War Roundtable (founded by Harry Truman). She is a past board member and advisor to the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.
Currently, Deb resides in Oakley, KS, with Dr. Jake Bauer DVM, and a number of horses, mules, and cats. Deb serves as an ex-officio member of the Santa Fe Trail Association board of directors, as well as the chair of the publicity and Santa Fe Trail 200th committees.