Nestled in the Flint Hills alongside the Neosho River, Council Grove received its name August 10, 1825, when the US Commissioners met with Chiefs of the Great and Little Osage Indian tribes beneath a tree later named the “Council Oak”, to sign the first treaty establishing the right-of-way for the famed Santa Fe Trail. In the years following, Council Grove became the pre-eminent rendezvous point for wagon trains heading west.
It was at Council Grove that small wagon trains and individual travelers gathered to form large wagon trains, since Council Grove was the furthest west point to which they could safely travel alone or in small groups. Also, at Council Grove was the last stand of hardwood timber from which wagon repairs could be made.
However, the first permanent settlement in Council Grove did not occur until Seth Hays, great-grandson of the famed Kentucky frontiersman Daniel Boone, established a trading post here in 1847. With the arrival of the railroad, the last Santa Fe wagon train passed through Council Grove in 1866, and the town became a trade center for the local agricultural economy. Today small industries, an active retail community and tourism form a large part of the local economy.
A town of a little over 2,100 residents, Council Grove proudly boasts its many historic sites, more than 24 of which have attained national recognition. The nearby Council Grove City Lake and Council Grove Federal Reservoir attract fishermen, boaters, and campers from everywhere. The Kaw Mission State Historic Site in Council Grove and the Kaw Nation’s Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park (about 3.5 miles southeast of Council Grove), are dedicated to telling the story of the Kaw (or Kansa) Indian Tribe, whose reservation was located here from 1847 to 1873.