Santa Fe Trail

Santa Fe Trail

From the time of its establishment all the way to the end of its use (1821–1880), the Santa Fe Trail ran right through Lenexa.

What is/was the Santa Fe Trail? For around 59 years in the mid 19th century
(1821-1880) it was the main commercial road from Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was before trains had made their way that far West, so travelers had to go by horse and wagons, thus needing safe routes to travel. The Santa Fe Trail was one of three main trails going West.

If you want to know more, the Santa Fe Trail Association has lots of info HERE, and the Nation Parks Service has a great piece on the Santa Fe Trail HERE.

This marker, set by The Daughters of the American Revolution and the state of Kansas in 1906, commemorates the Santa Fe Trail where it passed through Lenexa. It is located at the Southwest corner of Santa Fe Trail Drive and Noland Road in Bradshaw Park, downtown Lenexa. This park is part of the original right-of-way that ran through the fruit farm of Squire Charles Alfred Bradshaw. Squire Bradshaw sold the land to the railroad for $1.00 with the stipulation that a depot be erected and maintained on the property.

This park is the third home for this marker. Originally, the DAR placed it on the west side of the road at 105th and Pflumm. Later, the stone was moved to Caenen Lake Road and Santa Fe Trail Drive, near the Lenexa Lumber Company. Finally it was moved to its present location.

The Santa Fe Trail Time Line:

  • 1540 – 
    Prior to 1540 American Indians establish trade and travel routes that later become part of the Santa Fe Trail.
  • 1540 -1541 –
    Francisco Vazques de Coronado explores from Mexico to Quivira (Kansas).
  • Coronado introduced the horse on a large scale into what is now the U.S.. (These horses mingled with French Norman horses brought to Canada by French settlers, producing the wild horses later found in North America.)
  • 1601 –
    Juan de Onate spends five months traveling with wagons and artillery through the Plains.
  • 1620 –
    The Mayflower brought the Pilgrims to New England.
  • 1739 –
    Paul and Peter Mallet make first French trading venture to Santa Fe from Illinois country.
  • 1792 –
    Frenchman Pedro Vial travels from Santa Fe to St. Louis for Spanish government.
  • 1803 –
    On May 2, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase is signed.
  • President Thomas Jefferson pays $15 million for 828,000 square miles of land, doubling the size of the U.S.A.
  • 1804 –
    The Lewis and Clark expedition (45 men in a 55-foot keelboat and two pirogues) began on May 14. They started up the Missouri River from near St. Louis, set up camp on June 26 “at the upper point of the mouth of the river Kanzas,” and remained there for three days.
  • 1806 –
    Zebulon Montgomery Pike starts from St. Louis for Santa Fe.
  • 1819 –
    Jules de Mun and Auguste Pierre Chouteau traverse the Arkansas route.
  • 1821 –
    Mexico wins independence from Spain. William Becknell‘s party from Missouri is welcomed in Santa Fe.
  • At this time, the eastern terminus (final point; end) was Franklin, Missouri; by 1832, it was Independence, Missouri; and by 1845 it became Westport Landing (now Kansas City, Missouri).
  • 1824 –
    “The whole distance from the settlements on the Missouri to the mountains in the neighborhood of Santa Fe, is a prairie country, with no obstructions to the route ….A good wagon road can … be traced out, upon which a sufficient supply of fuel and water can be procured, at all seasons, except in winter.” — Alphonso Wetmore, 1824.
  • Mule and ox drivers made day-to-day Trail operations work.
  • Pittsburgh-made Conestoga wagons hauled 2 -3 tons of freight. Later, wagons were made in Missouri.
  • 1846-1848 –
    Mexican-American War. At its end, the United States acquired almost half of Mexico’s lands, which included New Mexico, in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
  • 1849 –
    California Gold Rush: The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California increases the traffic on the Trail.
  • 1851 –
    Fort Union, New Mexico, is established to help protect the Trail’s commerce.
  • 1861-1865 –
    The American Civil War lasts approximately four years.
  • 1869 –
    The Trail grows shorter as the railroads push westward.
  • 1878 –
    The Santa Fe Railroad reaches Raton Pass on the Mountain Route.
  • 1880 –
    The Santa Fe Railroad reaches Santa Fe; the Santa Fe Trail slips into history.
  • 1906 –
    The Daughters of the American Revolution begin erecting Trail markers.
  • 1986 –
    The Santa Fe Trail Association forms to help preserve and promote awareness and appreciation of the Trail.
  • 1987 –
    Congress designates the Santa Fe Trail a National Historic Trail under the National Trails System Act.
%d bloggers like this: