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The Santa Fe Trail - 2021

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The Santa Fe Trail stirs our imagination as few other historic trails are able to do. This year's ornament commemorates the 200th anniversary of its beginning. The route was pioneered in 1821 by William Becknell. For 60 plus years, it was a major thread in the tapestry of America's movement west. Beginning initially in Franklin, Missouri, the trailhead was later relocated to Independence, Missouri. Between 1821 and 1880, travelers to Santa Fe traversed five of today's states, crossing what is now Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado and ending in New Mexico. The Trail's economic influence flowed both ways; manufactured goods flowed towards Santa Fe, while raw materials, such as wool and Mexican silver, were transported east. It took eight to ten arduous and dangerous weeks to traverse the trail. The route included two alternatives: the Mountain Route, with more dependable water but required crossing the Rockies at the Raton Pass, and the other, the Cimarron Route, which was shorter but where water was scarce. During the years of its use, these routes carried explorers, adventurers, merchants, soldiers and settlers. The Santa Fe Trail served as a vital commercial and military route as well as providing emigrant access to the new west until the introduction of the railroad in 1880.

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