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Santa Fe Trail

 Related Terms

• Mexican Cession
• 
California Trail
• 
Chisholm Trail
• 
Mormon Trail
• 
Oregon Trail

 

Definition: Way west well traveled by Americans aiming to settle in the West. The Trail ran from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, in what is now New Mexico. The Trail opened in 1821, the year Mexico gained its independence from Spain. A decade later, the Trail had two main routes: the Mountain Fork, which went through Colorado, and the Cimarron Fork, which went through Kansas. Travel along the Trail reached its height after the Mexican Cession, in 1848. The Civil War brought travel along the Santa Fe Trail to a halt, but people began traveling again after the war ended, in 1865. The introduction of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad in 1880 made wagon travel a less attractive option, and the Santa Fe Trail fell into disuse.

Related Resources:

Santa Fe Trail Map (large)

The Westward Movement
Find out more about Americans' travels west.

The 19th Century
Get a glimpse of what life was like in the exciting 1800s.

Elsewhere on the Web:
The Interactive Santa Fe Trail Homepage
HUGE, helpful site for learning more on this famous trail. Includes history, maps, and much more!

Early American Trails and Roads
This very helpful site has descriptions of many famous trails and roads of early America.

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