Gardner resident, Rob Jochem who lives near the Gardner Green Way walking trails may have made a historical discovery.
Jochem has a keen interest in history which lead him to his current position as head of the
maintenance committee at the Gardner Historical Museum. Though, Jochem didn’t think he would stumble upon history in his own back yard, literally.
Back in 2007, Rob Jochem and his wife, Mary traveled several places, including Black Jack by Baldwin City to tour and view different historical sites and wagon ruts of the old Santa Fe Trail.
Strolling along the paths of Gardner Green Way, located behind his Gardner residence, Jochem came across a familiar depression and thought, “Could it be?” Jochem tracked down copies of old maps of the Santa Fe Trail through the area, and discovered depression he thought may be a wagon rut on the Gardner Green Way lined up with where the Westport Route of the Santa Fe Trail during the 1840s to 1850s.
Jochem contacted the Santa Fe Trail Association, and they have begun an investigation into the potential rut markings to determine if the depression is in fact left over from the original Santa Fe Trail.
Ross Marshall of the Santa Fe Trail Association has visited the site and agreed that it is in correct location and has the right appearance, and John Atkinson from the Santa Fe Trail Association echoed Marshall.
“We will explore all other causes, such as farm and building locations, but if no other explanation arises, then this will be deemed as official remnants of the original Santa Fe Trail,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson visited the site to further investigate and view the ruts along with Jochem and Jeff Stewart, Parks Recreation Director for the city of Gardner on May 11.
“If these are what they appear to be, then this is terrific,” Stewart said. “We will discuss and take the next steps towards preserving the area and acquiring signage.”