McGEE'S TAVERN LODGE | The Interactive Santa Fe Trail | Kansas Heritage | Kansas Sights |


by Jay Willows (August 2004):

Magees Tavern was located at US 75 and US 56. The old lodge is still there along with a couple of barn buildings /all made out of native stone. This site is just south of the above intersection and slightly west of US 75 It is a spectular sight.

Here is what I know about McGee's Tavern/Lodge

Fry Mcgee and his wife Martha had been in Oregon on a cattle drive sometime in early 1849. There were apparently from Easten Kansas and upon their return in late 1849, they made camp on on the 110 Mile Creek. This creek of course dissected the Santa Fe Trail and had few quality crosssings. This sight was approximately where the Mormon Trail and Santa Fe trail crossed.

Sometime in either 1854 or 1855, McGee built a house at this sight. The house was built out of native lumber, with the weather board being walnut, the floors oak and the roof clapboard..

McGee's house had four rooms with kitchen and dining the full length on the south side. On each side was a huge fireplace. The east room was generally occupied by travelers, and in the winter the floor was often filled with people sleeping before the fire with buffalo robes. The next room was a sleeping room for travelers with families. The room next to it was for McGee's daughters. The west room was for McGee and his wife.. His property was about 70 acres with about 60 acres on the south side of the Santa Fe Trail and another 10 acres on the North Side. He had many out buildings on his property including a blacksmith shop, a general store and barn for repairing wagons etc..

There had also been a bridge built at the lower water crossing on the Santa Fe Trail about 100 yards due west of his house.

The bridge stringers wer of logs and the bridge flooring was of split logs. McGee charged a toll of 25 cents per wagon and averaged about 30 dollars a day in tolls. In late 1860 McGee built a new bridge and only charged the wagons from Santa Fe Wagon Trains the toll.

The Santa Fe mail came twice a month carried in a coach which usually carried several passengers as well. McGee had at least two slaves in his possiession until the Civil War broke out.

He obvious made a good profit from lodging, his general store and many services available. His lodge was listed as the last chance to get supplies until you reached Santa Fe. 110 Mile Creek got its name because it was 110 Ten Miles from the Missouri River crossing at Sibley Landing.

Many stories of folklore have been attributed to McGees Tavern and Crossing. Some say that in fact, McGee and some of his hired help would occasionally take the live's of an apparent wealthy family and dispose of the wagon and family behind the lodge.

Supposedly, ghosts from these slayings still roam the meadows there.

Also, the Dalton Gang was to have robbed a bank in the area and stashed the loot somewhere along the 110 Mile Creek embankement in a small cave.. ( I looked for it on many occasisons but never found it).

I last visited this sight in the summer of 2001. McGee's house is was still standing with both fireplace intact. Also one or two small out buildings remain built out of native wood and limestone rock... The creek has been rerooted to prevent flooding but you can still walk down to the sight of the old creek bed and determine about where the toll bridge was at.

To get to this sight, travel to the intersection of U.S. 56 and OLD Hiway 75. Go south about 1/2 mile on old deserted Hiway 75.

You will see the dugout ridge of the Santa Fe Trail..You can park your car and walk about 200 yards which takes you directly to McGee's Lodge. The house is on the left in heavy overgrowth and the remaining outbuildings are on the right.

If you are interested at all in the Santa Fe Trail, this is a spectacular sight which today still remains ingnored and hidden from view.

Jay Willows

Kansas Heritage