The curved segments of Ashton Avenue Northeast, along the east edge of Ruth Circle Park, and Liberty Street Northeast matches a segment of the Ox Cart Trail, though the trail generally follows East River Road in this area.
The Ox Cart Trail was not only used by Métis people with ox carts; it was the main highway for other travelers in the area. A meal and a room did not always await travelers on the trail, and some preferred to camp on the prairie. Most often, ox cart caravans camped overnight, usually revisiting familiar campsites. These camps were lively places that included the wives and children of Métis traders.
In August 1851, John Wesley Bond traveled the trail to Pembina with Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey, who sought a treaty with the Red Lake and Pembina bands of Ojibwe ceding land near the Red River Settlement. The party, about 50 men, was led by Métis trader Pierre Bottineau and included an escort of soldiers from Fort Snelling and a crew of Métis carters.
The party routinely traveled early in the day and made camp by late afternoon, where they drew up the carts, pitched tents, and dined on the elk, fowl, or bison they hunted during the day. The men amused themselves by arguing over how their meals should be cooked and playing tricks on one another. On Election Day, Ramsey allowed them to indulge in a round of mint juleps, made with whiskey and prairie mint, and raised a toast to the territory.
The party returned to St. Paul in early fall, when frost had already settled in. There was little grass left to eat, and the horses and oxen suffered. But Bond felt secure in camp when he wrote in his journal, “… as we lie warm and comfortable in our tents tonight, upon our beds of mattress, robes, and blankets, with overcoats, boots, and saddles for our pillows, we can listen undismayed to the keen howlings of old Boreas. … Blow, winds, blow, snows may fall, and the winds may howl, for ourselves we care not, only for our poor beasts.”