Most people probably don’t get a sinking feeling in their stomach when they pull into the parking lot of Weltner Park at 79th Street and State Line Road in Prairie Village. (It’s a park, after all: They’re probably pretty happy to be there).
But should you have been treading the same ground around 1823, there’s a good chance you would have felt more than a bit of trepidation as you made your way east to west through the park.
With the passage of the Missouri Compromise in 1820, Missouri’s western became the western border of the nation — and the scraggly trail that crossed just over nine miles to the south of the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri rivers was the first blazed route to Santa Fe. If you’d taken the Santa Fe Trail in 1822 or 1823, the minute you set foot into what is now Weltner Park, you would have stepped out of the United States and into unorganized territory occupied by Indians.
The history of this “Nine-Mile Point” and the process of surveying the state line are documented in two new commemorative markers at Weltner Park.
The markers were placed by Prairie Village Public Works in collaboration with the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association, and will be formally dedicated in a ceremony at the park on Monday, Nov. 25 at 11 a.m.