James Henry Lane was the driving force behind the development of The Lane Trail. In 1855, the pro-slavery supporters in Missouri began using force to stop emigration by free-state supporters to Kansas via the Missouri River. Missourians, aka Border Ruffians, boarded Missouri River steamboats at Lexington and checked for eastern accents, asked questions about politics and in general tried to identify abolitionists and free-soil people bound for Kansas. Jim Lane and a large group were intimidated into turning back. Lane took his group to Chicago and recruited more men. In July of 1856, Lane was at the head of a wagon train heading west from Iowa City, Iowa. Along the way they left markers, sometimes tall poles in the tall prairie grass and other times piles of rocks. These would become known as “Lane’s Chimneys.” No known remains of these markers exist. See a Lane Trail historical sign at the junction of US Highway 36 and US Highway 75 in Kansas.
When Jim Lane reached Falls City Nebraska area in the southeast corner, he established the town as a last outpost before his little army of abolitionists crossed into Kansas Territory.