From 1821 to 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was the main commercial route connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to the Mexican War, the trail was used by Mexican and American traders across the international boundary. In 1846, the Army of the West used the trail to invade New Mexico. After the war ended in 1848, the trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. The trail was used by stage coach lines, gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. The trail declined when the railroad reached Santa Fe in 1880. The Santa Fe National Historic Trail extends from the site of Old Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, crossing Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and the Oklahoma panhandle along the way. Numerous historic sites are found along the trail route. Some of these sites, such as Pecos National Historic Park, are managed by the National Park Service. Others are owned and managed by other Federal agencies. Many sites, however, are ‘certified’ by the National Park Service in a partnership agreement between the Park Service and a private land owner, agency, or private organization. These certified sites are open and available at the discretion of the landowners and may require prior permission before your visit. Contact the trail administrators at the address below for touring information.
Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors was built in 1609-10 by the Spanish government of New Mexico, and is now the oldest continuously used public building in the United States. The adobe fortress and government center has served as the capitol building for colonial Spain, Mexico, Pueblo Indians, and even (briefly) the Confederate States of America. The old palace now houses the History Museum of the Museum of New Mexico. The museum houses an artifact collection of over 15,000 objects, focusing on the history and culture of New Mexico and the Southwest, and spanning all the eras of New Mexico’s history: Spanish Colonial (1540-1821), Mexican (1821-1846), Territorial (1846-1912) and Statehood (1912-present). The Palace of the Governors also includes the Fray Angélico Chávez Library, a non- circulating, closed-stack research facility that preserves historical materials on the development and history of New Mexico, the Greater Southwest, the American West, and Meso-America from pre-European contacts to the present.
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