“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Santa Fe in Santa Fe County, New Mexico — The American Mountains (Southwest)

Santa Fe Trail - Road to Opportunity

Santa Fe Trail - Road to Opportunity Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, October 12, 2021
1. Santa Fe Trail - Road to Opportunity Marker
Inscription.  For almost 60 years, from 1821 to 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was part of a complex web of international trade and business. The trail began as a connection from the Missouri frontier in the United States to Santa Fe in Mexico. Spanning 900 miles, the trail also linked to cities deep in Mexico via El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. In its early years, trade stabilized and supported the economies of Missouri and the Mexican province of New Mexico in an era of monetary upheaval in both the U.S. and Mexico.

From glory days to romantic memory

Prior to 1821, Spain's colonial policy restricted the kind and number of trade goods available in New Mexico. Trade barriers were lifted after Mexico achieved independence in 1821. Merchants like Antonio Martinez, Juan Jose Delgado, Albert Speyer, and Charles Ilfeld prospered from the trade.

With the successful American invasion of the Southwest in 1846, the character of the trade changed. Fewer individual traders were involved and more commercial firms began trading. The New Mexico economy was transformed from one of barter to cash.

After 1865, the railroad
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moved westward from Missouri, reaching New Mexico in 1880. The trail was replaced with steam engines and a new era of transportation began.


Trader William Becknell made his pioneering trip to Santa Fe in 1821. He returned in 1822 with wagons. His trips have earned him the title of "Father of the Santa Fe Trail."

(quote on bottom right panel:)

"A cheer went up from the drivers. I think both Will and I regretted that we had come to the end of the trail. We had loved the feel of the grass under our feet and the sound of the wind and the waters. The trail had been our point of outlook upon the universe. The blue sky above us had been bread and meet for our soul. If you have ever followed the old trail over mountains, through forests, felt the sting of cold, the oppression of the heat, the drench of rains and the fury of winds in an old covered wagon you will know what I mean."

-Marion Sloan Russell
Marion Russell and her mother traveled the Santa Fe Trail five time between 1852 and 1862 - the first when Marion was only seven years old.

Erected by National Park Service, City of Santa Fe Arts Commission and Museum of New Mexico.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce
Santa Fe Trail - Road to Opportunity Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, October 12, 2021
2. Santa Fe Trail - Road to Opportunity Marker
Marker is in front of the Wagon Sculpture at Museum Hill
Roads & VehiclesWomen. In addition, it is included in the Santa Fe Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1821.
Location. 35° 40.078′ N, 105° 55.504′ W. Marker is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in Santa Fe County. Marker is at the intersection of Camino Lejo and Old Santa Fe Trail, on the right when traveling south on Camino Lejo. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 725 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe NM 87505, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Journey's End (a few steps from this marker); Trade Transforms Art (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Artist's Garden (about 800 feet away); Mexican Colonial House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kearny's Gap Bridge (approx. ¼ mile away); Santa Fe Korean War Memorial (approx. half a mile away); A Two Way Street (approx. half a mile away); The Santa Fe Trail (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Santa Fe.
Wagon sculpture at Museum Hill image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, October 12, 2021
3. Wagon sculpture at Museum Hill
Reynaldo "Sonny" Rivera, in collaboration with landscape architect Richard Borkovetz, created this life-sized depiction of "Journey's End"
Credits. This page was last revised on October 25, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 25, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 128 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 25, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.

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Nov. 29, 2023