The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century transportation route that connected Independence, Missouri with Santa Fe , New Mexico. Pioneered in 1821 by William Becknell, the trail served as a vital commercial highway until the introduction of the Railroad to Santa Fe in 1880.
Comanche raiding farther south in Mexico isolated New Mexico. This made it more dependent on the American trade. It also provided the Comanches with a steady supply of horses for sale. By the 1840s, trail traffic along the Arkansas Valley was so heavy that bison herds could not reach important seasonal grazing land. This contributing to their collapse. The loss of the bison hastened the decline of Comanche power in the region.
After the U.S. acquisition of the New Mexico, the trail helped open the region to U.S. economic development and settlement. The trail played a vital role in the expansion of the U.S. into the lands it had acquired.
The story of the Santa Fe trail is one of the numerous features guest will enjoy when taking Santa Fe Footprints Historic Walking Tour.