Lane’s Chimneys

Lane’s Chimneys by Adam Shaw

The Lane Trail originated in Iowa City, Iowa, passing through Tabor, Iowa, crossing the Missouri River at Nebraska City, Nebraska Territory, from which it turned south before ending in Topeka, Kansas Territory. The trail generally following the path of present day US Highway 75 south from Nebraska City. In 1856 firebrand abolitionist James Lane took a group of men west from Chicago across Iowa to support embattled Kansas Abolitionist forces. Missourians had stopped all groups of suspected free-state supporters coming up the Missouri River so lane blazed this alternate path though the free state of Iowa. Jim Lane left cairns of stones along the prairie to mark this trail for future wagon trains.

“Near here the town of Plymouth and Lexington once stood as outposts on the Lane Trail, approximated today by US-75. Named for abolitionist James H. Lane, the trail was established in 1856 to bypass proslavery strongholds in Missouri and provide free-state settlers a safe route into Kansas. Rock piles known as “Lane’s chimneys” marked the trail. Leaving Iowa City, settlers went west into Nebraska and south into Kansas, passing through Plymouth, Lexington, Powhattan, Netawaka, and Holton before arriving in Topeka. The trail also served as part of the underground railroad, used by John Brown and others to transport slaves north to freedom.

At Plymouth, three miles south of the Nebraska line, and at Lexington, a few miles further south, the settlers built log cabins surrounded by earthen-walled forts for protection. Armed with rifles and bolstered by a small cannon at Plymouth, the settlers established an antislavery presence that helped bring “Bleeding Kansas” into the Union as a free state. Today, however, Plymouth and Lexington exist only as a memory.”

James H. Lane

Credit for this information to the Civil War Muse website.

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