In 1867, the railroad reached Junction City. This made the town the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail (over 1,400 wagons left Junction City to Santa Fe during this time) , Smoky Hill Trail, and as it turns out a possible end of the Chisholm Trail.
The railroad was pushing its way west and Abilene was better able to meet the needs of the cattle drivers. In the meantime, Junction City did briefly see the potential and began to build a stock yard west of the town near a location called Seven Springs, a stop on the Smoky Hill Trail.
Ron Harris, curator of the Geary County Historical Museum, researched the site and provided the following information:
Joseph G. McCoy a cattle commission man tried to get the city fathers to give him some land to build a large stock yard. They sent him on his way as the cattle were already here (Junction City was the end of the Shawnee Cattle Trail) and they did not need his stock yard. He was given 5 to 6 acres of ground at Seven Springs by the J.C. merchants Streeter and Strickler to build a large stockyard. The railroad promised to build a half mile spur to the corral. McCoy is the one who started it but as the track was going west he also visited the burg of Salina with the same proposition he had for J.C. They also turned him down. on the way back to J.C. on the Smoky Hill Trail he stopped at Mud Creek Station and asked the owner if he owned any land there. He replied that he did and McCoy asked him to give him some land on the east side of Mud Creek to build a corral and hotel. He promised to make this location the cattle capitol of the U.S. A name was needed for the spot to be along the tracks coming in a few weeks and the owners wife looked in the Bible and found the name the place would be forever known as, Abilene. McCoy is known as the Father of the Kansas Cattle Trails and was responsible to bring the Chisholm Trail to Abilene.
Mr. Harris went on to say that he did not think McCoy finished the corral at Seven Springs near Junction City, but Streeter and Strickler probably did. I do not know use of the site since the late 1860s other than there was a trail across Kansas Falls to the corral and it might have been used as a holding pen for cattle from the Chishom Trail that were sold at the corral or driven to Junction City. It is still a working corral. It is difficult to show its extent by the pictures above, but it is amazing that in approximately 135 years the walls look as sturdy and straight as when they were built. It should be noted that permission must be obtained to enter the location.
Jim Gray, The Cowboy, from Ellsworth, has a CD available on his web site entitled Around The Campfire with The Cowboy, Kansas Cattletowns. He further expands on Joseph McCoy, Junction City, Abilene and other cattletowns.
South part of Seven Springs Corral
Close view of north side of corral
Seven Springs Corral