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There are moanings on the trail, From west and eastward bounders, The host that’s passed forever, That shall never know it more; From men and fragile women, From pioneers and traders, Whose dying word was “Never,” Whose pale souls went on before. And its ruts flow deep with tears For the countless lowly biers, Of those who died upon it, In the agony of fears.

 

    Oh! the rumbling caravan--The women under cover, While the men before them scan, For Indians or water, For the’re mounds along the trail, It’s thousand miles of stretches, Of man, and child and mother, Fair flowers and hardened wretches; Where the sandstorms blow and blow, And obliterate all traces.

    Moving twenty miles a day, With mules and horses straining Through the deep and parching sand, The wagon wheels a-squeaking, With the hot sun beating down On whitened bones a bleaching. Stretching all along the trail, From Fort Dodge to San Miguel, From caravans forgotten, Where none lived to tell the tale.

    Oh! the tide of misery, And tears forever flowing, From the women folk inside, Through the long, dark hours of night, Or moonlight’s eerie bleaches, Praying God to send the light. The grey of early morning, While a rifle shot rings out, The Indians are coming, And the men go driving on, The tired horses running, For the goal they never reach.

    Oh! that never ending trail, Through canyon and arroya, And that cursed, cruel plain, The parched wastes of the desert, A mile above sea-level, Not a tree or shrub upon it, Without a drop of water, ’Tween the Arkansas river And the spring at Cimarron, Where they’ll never drink again.

    Pushing on to Willow Bar, Round Mound and Rio Moro, Through buff’lo grass and cacti, To ruins of the Pecos, With the blue skies overhead, And the horses breathing hard, Rolls the caravan along. A country in the making, And the women try to sing, God bless them, they are helping, Those tender friends of man, To keep his heart from breaking, With the wagon broken down, And not a blade for grazing.

    There are ghosts upon the trail, The myriads that trod it, And they pass without salute In a never ending line, In wagon and on horseback; Some going West, some Eastward. Strange spectres in the moonlight, Brave men and noble women, Young girls and little children, All long ago forgotten.

    And the past rolls back again, With Indians approaching, The Navajos and Pawnees, Kiowas and Comanche, Creeping closer to the trail. The children and the women, Oh! ’tis hard that they should die. Then the musket shots ring out From cool men bent on killing, Fighting for the ones they love, Though ten to one outnumbered, Until morning tints the sky And with it ends the combat.

    Then the town of Santa Fe, Oh! Father, in Thy mercy--And the women laugh and sing, The tired men are weeping, A thousand times repeated, As men entered Santa Fe. The cursed trip was over, Save to those left on the way, The pioneer martyrs Of the trail to Santa Fe.