The Santa Fe Trail / Who Traveled The Trail?
Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway
Near where you are standing was one of the great overland trade routes of the 19th century. Connecting Franklin, Missouri, with Santa Fe, New Mexico, the trail ran 900 miles through rough terrain hostile to all but the hardiest traders set on making a profit. Unlike the emigrant trails to the north, trade moved in both directions.
Pioneered in 1821 by William Becknell, the trail quickly became a busy trade route handling hundreds of wagon trains a year and carrying goods worth millions of dollars in today's currency. With the arrival of the railroad in 1880, the era of the Santa Fe Trail came to an end.
Hertzstein Museum, Clayton
This museum, housed in a former church, offers informative exhibits about the Santa Fe Trail as well as history of the Local area.
Point of Rocks
Reachable by a private road off of Highway 56, this outcropping was an important landmark and campsite on the Santa Fe Trail.
Springer Museum An informational exhibit here explains the importance of the Santa Fe Trail to the region.
Who Traveled the Trail?
Along with American and Mexican traders, there were many others who traveled the trail: Indians, fur trappers, buffalo hunters, adventurers, scouts such as Kit Carson, soldiers protecting the caravans or supplying the forts that were built along the trail, journalists and what Josiah Gregg, author of a chronicle of the trail, called, the "amateur tourist and the listless loafer.” Even invalids, hoping that hardship and fresh air would restore them to health, set out on the monumental trek. Very few women made the journey.
Few written accounts survive of the experiences of Hispanic traders from this period, but from the start, Mexicans and Hispanics traveled east taking silver, mules, buffalo hides, and beaver furs (called "soft gold") to waiting markets in Missouri. By the end of the trail era, Hispanic travelers comprised up to 90% of the trail traffic.
Susan Shelby Magoffin
A young, jut-married nineteen-year-old from Kentucky, she accompanied her trader husband from Missouri to Santa Fe and south into Mexico in 1846. She chronicled the journey in Down the Santa Fe
Beginning in the late 1840s, the Santa Fe Trail became an important military road Soldiers traveled with wagon trains protecting them from Indian maids Posts such as Fort Larned, Fort Dodge, and Fort Union were but along the rout. The military then was involved in supplying the Garrisons posted to the forts.
One of the most famous accounts of travel on the trail was written by a sickly young man from Missouri who joined a caravan in 1831, bound for Santa Fa. His health restored, Josiah Gregg ultimately made the trip eight times and became a Santa Fe trader engaging in trade between the United States and Mexico. Whimen in 1844, his book, Commence of the Prairies, details the adventures of a trail crossing and life in Santa Fe before the outbreak of the Mexican-American War.
In the late 1850s much of the freighting of goods on the Santa Fe Trail was conducted by native New Mexicans. The Romeros of Las Vegas was one family which prospered in the commerce of the trail. These traders and many like them formed the large Hispanic mercantile class of New Mexico in the mid-19th century.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & Vehicles
Location. 36° 27.42′ N, 103° 10.25′ W. Marker is in Clayton, New Mexico, in Union County. Marker is on U.S. 64/412 0.1 miles east of North West Avenue, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 75 Highway 64, Clayton NM 88415, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Santa Fe Trail - Cimarron Cutoff / Clayton (a few steps from this marker); Santa Fe Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); Black Jack Ketchum (approx. 1.2 miles away); Clayton Dinosaur Trackway (approx. 1.2 miles away); Rabbit Ear Mountain (approx. 2.2 miles away); Clayton (approx. 2.2 miles away); a different marker also named Rabbit Ear Mountain (approx. 3.2 miles away); a different marker also named Clayton (approx. 3.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Clayton.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 13, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 10, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 42 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on December 13, 2020, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 2, 3. submitted on December 10, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.