First Wagons Used on Santa Fe Trail

The Santa Fe Trail was a two-way commercial highway that connected Missouri to Santa Fe. Used between 1821 and 1889, it was frequented by both American and Mexican traders. It was also a path that the U.S. Army used to invade Mexico during the Mexican-American War.

Besides commerce, the Santa Fe Trail was also used during the Gold Rush by people heading to gold fields in both California and Colorado as well as by missionaries, emigrants and more.

The expansion of the railroad into Santa Fe in February 1880 brought an end to the trail.

Historical Marker Inscription

“First Wagons Used on Santa-Fe Trail Crossed Here in 1822.”

Accompanying sign:

“Stretching 900 miles from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Santa Fe Trail as one of the most important North America trade routes of the nineteenth century. Begun in 1821, it was used for 60 years until the arrival of the railroad. It was a hardy traveler who attempted the journey. Wagon trains up to 500 wagons long traversed the trail through blizzards, stampedes, dust storms, fires, disease, and Indian attacks. And often, they lacked for water.

Here, near two landmarks of the trail, Round Mound and Rabbit Ears, wagon trains camped for the night. William Becknell, the trader who inaugurated the Santa Fe Trail in 1821, came this way on his return trip east while forging the smoother Cimarron Route across the plains.

Two-way Street

Unlike the great emigrant trails to the north, the Santa Fe Trail ran both ways, with traders from Mexico, or returning U.S. traders, carrying Mexican silver, gold, mules, buffalo and beaver pelts to waiting markets in Missouri.”

Location: US-87 West, Clayton, New Mexico
Latitude: 36

Location: US-87 West, Clayton, New Mexico
Latitude: 36 degrees 33′ 59.520″ N
Longitude: 103 degrees 34′ 1.152″ W

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