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Before the railroads crossed the state there were several transportation highways. One that was important but not widely known was the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail.

Fort Hays was established by the government in 1860, and in 1864 they established another at Fort Dodge on the Arkansas river. All supplies for Fort Dodge were shipped to Fort Hays over the Union Pacific Railroad, and then hauled overland through a country infested with Indians. In 1867 the government officially established the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail, beginning in Ellis county, it crossed Rush, Ness and Hodgeman counties, terminating at Fort Dodge.

John O'Loughlin joined General Sheridan's forces at the close of the Civil War, and in traveling over the trail had great difficulty in crossing Pawnee creek on account of the steepness of the banks. Recognizing the possibilities of trade on such a highway he decided in 1868 to settle there and build a bridge and store. He constructed the bridge of logs, cut from trees growing along the stream. He charged toll: one dollar for each government team and fifty cents for all others. He also built a house of logs and made a stockade by setting the poles in the ground on end. He dug a well in this enclosure so in case of an Indian attack he would not be without water. Mr. O'Loughlin was the first white settler in Hodgeman county. The O'Loughlin Trading Post, as it was then called, did a thriving business with government troops, freighters, buffalo hunters, cowboys, and with Indians, in spite of the fact that the main purpose of the trail was to subdue and control them. Famous chiefs including Little Robe, Black Kettle, Satanta, Dull Knife, and Little Raven, led their warriors along the white man's road. Mr. O'Loughlin tried to supply the needs of all classes. Besides the staple groceries and dry goods, he sold feed, rifles, ammunition, saddles, spurs, boots and other things that were necessary on the frontier.

There was never a dull day on this highway. General Sheridan was stationed at Fort Hays, and used it as a base in his operations against the Indians. He followed this trail many times in order to protect people and supplies. General Custer with troops of the United States Cavalry, camped near O'Loughlin's Trading Post in November, 1868. The names of President Hayes, Colonel Dodge, General Hancock, Colonel Lewis, Amos Chapman, Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, and many others are recorded as having made use of the crossing. In one instance, the government sent a large supply train, consisting of thirty wagons each pulled by six or eight mule teams to the wagon.

When the Santa Fe Railroad was built into Dodge City in 1872, Mr. O'Loughlin anticipated a big falling off in his trade. He sold his interests to George Duncan, and after that for many years the place was called Duncan's Crossing. The old trail is now but an incident of history, and the log bridge was replaced by a modern bridge in 1923. A monument in memory of the pioneers and for the soldiers who made it safe for their coming, has been erected by the settlers of Hodgeman county at the historical Duncan's Crossing.