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As years went by, hostilities increased between wagon trains and some tribes of Plains Indians. Jeddediah Smith, a frontiersman famous for his exploits on the Oregon Trail, died on his very first attempt to cross the Cimarron Cutoff. Even in the beginning there was some apprehension and tension between the wagon trains and the Plains tribes, but the event that started the indiscriminate killing on the Santa Fe Trail occurred at a river crossing just north of Clayton at Mc Nees Crossing.
Of course you can't talk of volcanoes, early man and the Ice Age without conjuring up images of dinosaurs. Over a hundred million years ago, this was the edge of what is now the Gulf of Mexico.
Eleven people escorting a stagecoach carrying the US Mail were ambushed here.
It is surmised that the little community graveyard at the northern base of the mountain was started with the graves of these unfortunate travelers.
East of Johnson Mesa, one of the better preserved volcanoes has been made into a National Park, the only one in the nation where you can drive up to the rim and hike down into an actual volcano. Watch the movie in the Visitor's Center, peruse the books and exhibits, and then drive up to the top.
Appropriately enough, the east bank of the crossing sports a vivid array of wildflowers.
Wagon Mound was one of the significant landmarks on the Santa Fe Trail, Wagon Mound is as popular with travelers today as it was during Trail days.
Dinosaurs of many varieties roamed the muddy shores and their tracks have been preserved in the rocks.
At Clayton Lake State Park you can walk out among more than 500 different dinosaur tracks made by a variety of dinosaurs.