Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Mexico Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway

santa fe trail wagon trainsanta fe trail wagon rutsFrom New Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico the Santa Fe Trail was one of the nations most significant early transportation routes. Carved out of the wilderness in 1821, William Becknell, a freight operator, struck out west from New Franklin with a load of cargo (mostly cotton) to trade in Santa Fe. He also thought the time was right because of the Mexican revolt against their Spanish rulers. The story is that he encountered Mexican rebels along the way and they confirmed that trading in Santa Fe would be much welcomed. This is truly a tale of the old west. Becknell left New Franklin again in 1822 with more traders in tow and the trail grew more busy each and every year. Over the years the trail became a major military route to the southwest and played a part in the Civil War. The photo to the left shows trail ruts in New Mexico, a product of the thousands of wagons that traversed it.  In addition to opening trade to Spanish New Mexico or referred to as Nuevo Mexico, the route traversed "Comancheria", the plains country of the Comanche Indians and many traders from the east found it quite profitable trading with the Comanche's along the way. The Comanche's also felt they should be rewarded because the route crossed their native homeland. The Comanche's were a factor as settlers in Texas discovered during the mid 1800's. The Santa Fe Trail also opened the floodgates of early emigration to the entire southwest.

In 1992 the U.S. Governments's Dept. of Transportation designated National Scenic Byways and American Roads to honor their historical and cultural significance. The Santa Fe Trail was certainly one of them.

Another interesting story we have on Western Trips is the historic town of Puerto de Luna located about 10 miles south of Santa Rosa. 

If you find yourself traveling in north/northeastern New Mexico, you have a great opportunity to visit several very interesting landmarks and buildings that commemorate the Trail's importance.
santa fe trail map
There are many sights to see all along the trail from Missouri to New Mexico and one very informative web site will give you an excellent list of places to visit all along the New Mexico portion. You may wish to pull up  www.santafetrailnm.org

An excellent source on the life of William Becknell can be found on this site:  www.tshaonline.org

If you find yourself in Santa Fe, NM be sure to see the marker located right on the Plaza which designates the official end point of the trail. It's on the southeast part of the Plaza. Another interesting short story is how Fred Harvey and the AT&SF Railroad helped civilize the southwest.

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