DescriptionExpansive maples, elms and oaks shade the streets of Council Grove, much as they did during the meeting between Osage Indian chiefs and U.S. commissioners in the summer of 1825. From that conclave came the treaty by which the government obtained the right-of-way for the Santa Fe Trail as well as the name for this town on the Neosho River.
The remains of Council Oak, under which the agreement was signed, are enshrined at 210 E. Main St. Post Office Oak, a block farther west on Main Street, served as an unofficial post office 1825-47, when Council Grove was one of the most important stations—and the last outfitting point—on the Santa Fe Trail. Although the tree has since died, the stump where letters were left in a stone cache at its foot to be picked up by the next wagon train has been preserved.
Near Post Office Oak is the “Madonna of the Trail” statue, a 16-foot-tall memorial to the courage of pioneer mothers. Across the street, the “Guardian of the Grove” statue marks the start of the Neosho Riverwalk, a paved, landscaped walkway that begins at Main Street, crosses the Santa Fe Trail and ends a half-mile north at the Kaw Mission State Historic Site.
The massive trunk of Custer Elm is preserved 6 blocks south of Main Street on Neosho Street, on property once owned by Lt. Col. George A. Custer. This once giant tree purportedly marks the site where Custer's 7th Cavalry camped as it guarded the Santa Fe Trail. Among several remaining buildings from the town's pioneer heyday are a 19th-century jail at 502 E. Main St., the 1857 Last Chance Store at W. Main and Chautauqua streets, and the 1857 Hays House, one of the oldest continuously operated restaurants west of the Mississippi River.
The 1.25-mile Pioneer Nature Trail at Council Grove Lake, 945 Lake Rd., is part of the National Recreation Trail and offers a glimpse of the ecosystems of the Flint Hills as well as spectacular wildflower blossoms during spring. Buffalo wallows may be seen on part of the trail's second loop. For further information, phone (620) 767-5195.
Visitor InfoCouncil Grove/Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism 207 W. Main St. COUNCIL GROVE, KS 66846. Phone:(620)767-5413
Self-guiding toursA brochure spotting points of historic interest can be obtained from the chamber of commerce and tourism office.
Things to SeeKaw Mission State Historic Site