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.
Jim Hart, author of many posts on travelthepast, wrote these words before the 9/11 attach:
I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about three public events in my lifetime: the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion, and the Oklahoma City bombing. (The fact that I was at my job in a federal building when I heard about Oklahoma City did, as they say, remarkably concentrate the mind.) Oklahoma City National Memorial is on the former site of the Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed on April 19, 1995, in the worst terrorist act on American soil. The monument includes the Gates of Time (monumental twin gates framing the moment of destruction, 9:02 AM), a reflecting pool, and Rescuers’ Orchard with the “Survivor Tree” (a 70-year old Elm tree that survived the bombing).
I visited this site twice in 2002 on a business trip to Oklahoma City. I was so moved I returned a few months later with my wife and children on a family vacation. So many of our national monuments and historic sites are places where lives have been lost. Maybe we turn them into “sacred spaces” so that we can remember that in every generation we need to work toward peace not only in the world but here in our own country.
Route 66, the “Mother Road” of American car culture, ran from Chicago to California. There is probably no state where the “Mother Road” was more important than Oklahoma, not only because it was the major east-west thoroughfare in the state, but also because it was the route of the great dust-bowl Okie migration, which changed the history of two states and the entire country. The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum has collected signs, artifacts, and memorabilia of the road into a comprehensive exhibition of its history and culture.