Gardner was formerly known as the city "Where the Trails Divide" due to its significant place in the history of the westward expansion. Gardner was founded where the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon/California Trails divided. The Santa Fe Trail sent travelers southwest through Sante Fe and Albuquerque toward Los Angeles and San Diego. The Oregon/California Trails bore west for a few miles before turning north toward the Kansas River valley, followed the Big Blue River into present-day Nebraska, followed the Platte River west, and ultimately split in present-day Wyoming, Idaho or Utah.
Gardner was founded as a Free-Stater settlement in 1857. Settled primarily by emigrants from Massachusetts, it may have been named for Henry Gardner then governor of Massachusetts.
Read a poem written by one of our very own city employees in their own words regarding Gardner's history:
Gardner Historical Museum
Visit the Gardner Historical Museum to learn more about the history of Gardner.