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Smoky Hill Trail/Butterfield's Overland Despatch (BOD)


David Butterfield established Butterfield’s Overland Despatch in 1865 from Atchison or Fort Leavenworth to Denver. The BOD essentially followed the Smoky Hill Trail along the Smoky Hill River in Kansas. The BOD crossed the southern part of Trego County.

Interesting Facts about the Smoky Hill Trail or Butterfield’s Overland Despatch:

  • Originally the BOD was established to run freight on; later it transported passengers

  • The BOD was the shortest route to the Rocky Mountains and the gold fields

  • But it was not always the safest route

  • Forts, such as Fort Hays and Fort Wallace, were established to protect the travelers

  • The route was in operation for only a short period of time

  • The railroad was also moving west during this same time period and replaced this mode of transportation

  • Today limestone markers can be seen where the trail crossed the north-south roads

  • One marker is located on KS Hwy 147 below the dam

  • One is northwest of the Wilcox School on US Hwy 283 (This marker is under repair)

  • There are numerous other markers in the area

  • Plus there are remains of the wagon ruts in some fields and pastures


The Smoky Hill Trail Association was formed in 2007 to promote interest in the trail and to preserve its history. The association is working with local legislators to have the trail declared a National Historic Trail. Remember the Smoky Hill Trail!

Contact Us

KS Hwy 147, Trego County, KS

Mailing Address

PO Box 978
Hays, KS 67601