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Zerfari Time!

With Trails of the Smoky Hill by Lee & Raynesford as our guide we once again hit the road in search of the famous old Butterfield Overland Despatch trail. The B.O.D. ran from Leavenworth to Denver. Another branch began at Atchison, Kansas. This year we concentrated on Ellis County. The trail followed the Smoky Hill River through the southern parts of the county. We visited the Philip Ranch, established in 1875. Mike & Sandy Sprague still run about 200 head of Hereford cattle on their range along with their son Cord. Sandys sister Kay Lynn Philip is a pilot, married to Jay Barker and also makes her home on the ranch. The whole outfit gets the Kansas Cowboy and are great old west historians themselves.  
There were plenty of trail ruts to see. The trail crosses Big Creek on their property and the Big Creek Station was just beyond the actual creek. The Philip family has erected a monument at the old depression in the grass where the station once was. Black Kettle camped along Big Creek not far from the original dugout where the Philip ranch was started. We had way too much fun on the ranch! There will be lots more to tell in the next issue of the Kansas Cowboy. 
We traveled west a few miles to visit another Hays couple, Mel and Mary Sauer. Mel has been working on me to come out to his place for a long time. He hitched up a team of Belgiums and drove us to the site of Lookout Station in an old beer wagon that actually delivered beer in Ellis County. Lookout Station was burned by Indians in 1867. Custer discovered the burned out station but couldn t catch up to the Indians. His cavalry horses had to be fed hay and grain while the Indian ponies were used to foraging off the land. He just couldnt keep up.  
We had all kinds of fun with the Sauers. One of our Yahoos, Leo Groff joined us at Lookout. Being from the area he knew little tidbits like the location of the prehistoric riverbed of the Smoky. Today s Smoky runs quite a ways south of that old stream bed.  
On we traveled. At the western end of Ellis County we visited Ralph and Viola Burns. Ralph has, been there done that! We camped at a secluded pond west of his place and just a little north of the Smoky. Even had a cow come by to show off her calf to us.  
The next day we were off and running looking for more stations. Ralph wasn t sure where Louisa Station was but he knew where several B.O.D. markers. Kassi found the one we were looking for. From there we were pretty sure the next valley was the site of the station. Sure enough! Lots of water, old dugout depressions and trail ruts were evident. Louisa Springs was and IS a beautiful spot on the prairie.  
With Ralph as our guide and the Trails of the Smoky Hill book fer backup we found the final station for the trip. Stormy Hollow was the classic looking site for a western Kansas stage station. The ruts were easily found and it wasn t hard to imagine a team charging down the hill and around the bend as it neared the station where teams would be changed for fresh horses and travelers could get a quick respite before returning to the trail.  
We finished off our little Zerfari trip by visiting the grave of the fellow that got us hooked on this stuff in the first place. Howard Raynesford and his wife Emily are buried in the Ellis cemetery. I wonder if he could have imagined a bunch of Yahoos all dressed up like they stepped through a time warp out the 1860 s following his old tracks along the Smoky?  
There is a lot to fill in on the story. You jest got the outline. The full story of Zerfari 07 ill probably take the next three issues of the Kansas Cowboy. If ya aren t already getting it now would be a good time ta sign on with the outfit! Jest click on the C.O.W.B.O.Y. Society link on the right hand side of the page. See on the trail!  
So Long, 
The Cowboy 


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