Three of the overland trails that formed in Missouri and went west followed the same route for part of the way. The Santa Fe Trail was mainly used for hauling goods to Santa Fe and points further west. The traders on the Santa Fe Trail would go to Santa Fe, sell their goods, and then return to their homes. Sometimes they made two trips during a year.
The Oregon and California Trails took emigrants to Oregon or California as early as the 1840s. These people left their homes and moved west to get new lands. This trail was nearly 2000 miles in length. The families traveling these trails had sold most of their belongings back home and said good-bye to friends and relatives. They did bring some of their prized possessions and tools they needed for the new start. These folks had no intentions of going back home again.
Both the Oregon-California Trail and the Santa Fe Trail gathered at Independence. This entire area would have been very busy with hundreds of wagons, thousands of people and animals preparing for the long trip. Both trails followed the same path for a short distance. It was at Gardner Junction that the Oregon-California Trail travelers headed northwest toward a new life and the Santa Fe Trail traders continued to the southwest with dreams of getting rich.
The Santa Fe Trail Association and National Park Service have marked this area with a kiosk containing exhibits about the trails.