Now-Demolished Town of New Santa Fe Was the Last Stop West on the Santa Fe Trail
By Diane Euston
It’s no secret that towns such as Martin City were created after the railroad was laid out and settlement followed. Due to this progression, other towns, including New Santa Fe in Jackson Co., were all but deserted due to this new economic feat.
New Santa Fe was created out of the precursor to the railroad: the Santa Fe Trail.
Some records indicate the first log cabin, serving as a tavern, was built in what would become New Santa Fe in 1824. This location was originally called Blue Camp 20 because it was 20 miles from Independence and near the Blue River.
The Jackson County Historical Society reports that between the years 1847 and 1850, 40,000 western emigrants departed from Westport. Wornall Rd. between the town of Westport and New Santa Fe is the longest stretch of trail remaining in Jackson County, Mo. today.
Incorporated in 1851, New Santa Fe was the last stop for pioneers and sat on the Santa Fe Trail and stretched from State Line Rd. to approximately Belleview Ave.
Founder of New Santa Fe, Dabney Lipscomb, was born in 1806 in Kentucky. He decided to take a risk many would shy upon and move west. In the mid 1840s, Dabney lived and cultivated his rich terrain on the rolling hills of Washington Township. His land today is where Verona Hills subdivision is.
The Lipscomb’s must have had an enterprising spirit, because Dabney is the uncle of the founder of Martin City, John Harris Lipscomb.
Dabney’s goal was to establish a town full of materials, expertise and the ability to assist the brave on their trip to the Wild West. New Santa Fe would have been the last official town in the United States – everything sitting on the western horizon belonged to the Native American tribes.
And these wagon trains were trespassing.
Travelers on the Santa Fe Trail could trek from Independence to either Westport or New Santa Fe in order to make their journey west. If you chose to go through New Santa Fe, you had an interesting jaunt via-the Blue River.
Thousands of pioneers opted for the route through this bustling little town called New Santa Fe in lieu of traveling through Westport, whose roads were reported to be “rocky”. But to travel through New Santa Fe meant you had to cross the river.
The building of the original Red Bridge in late 1859 left little excuse for Westport; the problem had been solved. The Blue River route from Independence now had a bridge to cross.
The wooden structure, painted red, was 100 feet long. No longer did wagon trains have to dredge through the Blue River. They just crossed the bridge and then up the hill at current-day Minor Park where swales are evident today.
The same year Kansas City was incorporated, New Santa Fe opened their first post office and grew to a town of 500 citizens. That’s right; New Santa Fe was older than Kansas City.
In 1854, Dabney Lipscomb passed away. He, his wife and his son, Nathan, have stones at the cemetery in New Santa Fe Cemetery, one of the only remnants of the town remaining.
The town at its height boasted a blacksmith shop, a stonecutter, a mercantile business, an outfitting store, a hotel, a carriage maker, a school, a doctor and a dentist. Men who had helped frame the future of Kansas City first rolled the dice in New Santa Fe.
The very first masonic lodge in all of Jackson County, Mo. was at J.P. Smith’s shop that was on the border between Missouri and Kansas in New Santa Fe. The records were burned in the Border Wars around 1856 and the chapter most likely dissolved then. Even Smith’s headstone at Blue Ridge Cemetery showcases the masonic symbol, left to remind us of a time long forgotten.
Border Wars between Kansas Jayhawkers and bushwhackers decimated the town, turning the area on its heels. During this time, very few properties survived.
New Santa Fe has hidden itself from plain view for many, many years. First it was brutally beaten down in the Border Wars; then, it suffered when the railroad was built south of the town in what became Martin City; and finally, suburban development engulfed its final pieces and all that remained of the town.
The only concrete objects which exist today are the granite marker placed by the DAR in 1906 at the corner of Santa Fe Trail and State Line and the well-preserved New Santa Fe Cemetery at Santa Fe Trail and Belleview that features swales from the wagons which traveled west nearby.
Diane writes a monthly blog about the area. To read the stories, visit www.newsantafetrailer.blogspot.com.