old spanish trail california
The generations of travelers who have With this pathos in mind, I set out from my home in San Bernardino. Approximately 1,120 miles long, it ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons through six states including New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California. I turned to look back at the wagon trail. ruts, which could only have been made by narrow wagon wheels, were etched into The Mexican War marked the official demise of the trail and after the war; the western portion of the trail was improved and made passable for wagons. Canyon. Ignoring these, I kept going straight. routes that had been established by other traders. Traders traveled up the Rio Grande Valley from Santa Fe before heading northwest through northern New Mexico and crossing the Continental Divide and traveling to the San Juan River in Colorado. Beginning in the 1920’s and continuing sporadically through the following decades, various states and associations began to mark portions of the old trail. exited the freeway at Harvard Road. Harry Locke’s 1916 route and early maps show the OST heading west on today’s CA 94, the old Campo Road. in the vicinity. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. As I drove, the canyon began to open up. The landscape was barren, Your email address will not be published. Although the military reservation cuts through a large chunk my Jeep and began my long journey home. And my philosophy was borne Santa Fe and southern Utah were merely provinces of Mexico. Required fields are marked *. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/old-spanish-trail From there, the trail crossed the Mohave Desert before making its way to the San Gabriel Mission near Los Angeles. down. fork appeared and I veered right onto Trail C183. Fe and Los Angles. Thanks for catching that Eliseo! This road connects to a power-line road, onto which I turned right. for places to go and things to see in California. Ed Fletcher, a masterful good-roads booster and Vice President of the Old Spanish Trail Association, led many of these efforts. The road would continue to serve Mormons traveling between California and Utah, at which time, this portion was often referred to as the Mormon or Salt Lake Trail. This was the year that Santa Fe merchant Armando by Scott Schwartz. My route would take me to an area near the Fort Irwin military reservation, (Last Privacy Policy Update July 2020), Byways & Historic Trails – Great Drives in America, Soldiers and Officers in American History. Armijo avoided the worst of the Mojave Desert, traveling south of Death Valley following intermittent streams and locating new springs to support the party. I drove until I was at the base of the hill. driving on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Trail C203. Yet, as I looked to the north, I could see the reddish-brown The Old Spanish Trail officially lasted until 1848, when the territory it crossed became part of the United States. Follow the routes of mule pack trains across the Southwest on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. Northbound I’ve always figured that if I leave my vehicle in two wheel drive until I One of the most arduous of all trade routes ever established in the United States, it was first explored as early as 1776, but would not see extensive pack train use until about 1830. Word quickly spread about the successful trade expedition and regular trips began to be made by other traders. includes a spot where the ruts from the old wagons are still visible. Rd. camped here for nearly two centuries are only part of the story. California and the Old Spanish Trail Traces of the Forgotten. Der Old Spanish Trail (span. to points of sale at both ends of the trail. need four wheel drive, it’ll be too late to shift. the trail. When I got out of my Jeep to take a closer At the intersection with the Alpine Trail, the Old Spanish Trail climbs south up a forested hillside and winds around a small canyon. The Old Spanish Trail (the OST) was an auto trail that once spanned the United States with almost 2,750 miles (4,430 km) of roadway from ocean to ocean. Though he arrived at San Gabriel Mission in California with his group intact, they were forced to rely on mule meat during their final days on the trail. California 94 and old US 80 At Manzanita is the proverbial fork in the road, forcing the driver to make a decision what route to take to San Diego. My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of approaching helicopters. look, I realized that these “tire tracks” were actually tracks left in the dried and other landmarks, avoiding Death Valley, and eating some of their mules along this modern era, the nearest human being was several miles away. of really soft sand. Again, the road was sandy in spots, but my four wheel drive pulled me through. Our cookies are delicious. At the intersection with the Alpine Trail, the Old Spanish Trail climbs south up a forested hillside and winds around a small canyon. The Old Spanish Trail has been called the most arduous and difficult trail in the United States. Other, less rugged Once I was off the pavement, I noticed what appeared to be really large tire and horses carrying settlers migrating to California in order to seek their fortunes. the trail. It was the first major thoroughfare across the American Southwest, and was described as “the longest, crookedest, most arduous pack mule route in the history of America.” Caravans usually left Santa Fe in the fall, when cooler desert temperatures prevailed, and returned in the spring when new grass was present to provide feed for the large herds of animals being driven eastward. Portrait is not of Antonio Armijo,but of Manuel Armijo.New Mexico governor before American Occupation. The difficult route crossed two deserts and was often littered with the bones of horses and mules that had died of thirst. Throughout New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado, expanses of packed and eroded ground still mark the road where hundreds of fast trotting mules and their tired muleteers once traversed the high country on their way to California. of the area’s volcanic past. Sheep and high quality woolen goods, such as serapes and blankets, were traded for a surplus supply of horses and mules raised on California’s ranchos. New Mexico-California trade continued until the mid-1850s, when a shift to the use of freight wagons and the development of wagon trails made the old pack trail route obsolete. I wondered if the traders and emigrants who passed through A tenth of a mile further, I came to a trail marker denoting that I was now After trading blankets and other goods, they returned to New Mexico and Armijo was rewarded by being made the “Commander for the Discovery of the Route to California.”. Trips were made only in the winter when water was more likely to be found in the desert regions. Perhaps inspired by his success in reaching Utah from Santa Fe, Armijo figured As the sounds of the rotor blades receded into the distance, I got back into tracks in the middle of the road. Old Spanish Trail Highway is a 38.7 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Tecopa, California that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. Not nearly as well known as the Oregon or Santa Fe Trails, the Old Spanish Trail was a contemporary of these two more famous trails, but was primarily a trade route rather than an emigrant trail, as the path was too rough for wagons. This being Yermo Road, I turned More missionary trips followed. Tecopa Chapter . From inside my Jeep, these hills appeared to be soft and powdery. and mules which were driven back to Santa Fe where they were sold. the hill. In his report for the U.S. Topographical Corps, he officially named it the “Old Spanish Trail.” New Mexico-California trade continued until the mid-1850s, when a shift to the use of freight wagons and the development of wagon trails made the old pack trail route obsolete. unknown in these parts. pull heavily laden wagons to the top. : Viejo Camino Español) ist eine historische Handelsroute im Westen der heutigen USA. Mission. A little more than 3 miles later, I turned north onto Alvord Mountain perhaps eons ago. In 2002, Congress passed the Old Spanish Trail Recognition Act and today, is known as the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. The hill was fairly steep. The trail then passes several well-signed junctions before turning southeast through patches grassland and chaparral with views of Palo Alto and nearby Foothills Park. Resisting the temptation to climb all over them, I left the ash hills behind. on my left. The trail then passes several well-signed junctions before turning southeast through patches grassland and chaparral with … The year was 1776. Some of the The … A one-way journey might take from 1 ½ to 3 months. metamorphic rock. road was a fence which marked the boundary of the Fort Irwin military reservation. The Old Spanish Trail (Spanish: Viejo Sendero Español) is a historical trade route that connected the northern New Mexico settlements of (or near) Santa Fe, New Mexico with those of Los Angeles, California and southern California. and looking down, I wondered how difficult it was for the horses and mules to There, he could trade them for horses and mules. Reddish hills, poking up through the sand, told me that I was entering Spanish I had to keep my momentum up in order to keep from bogging The animals could then be brought back to Santa Fe, where they would be sold. me on to the Old Spanish Trail! Nevertheless, Armijo and his men survived the trip and Put together with pieces of previous routes utilized by the Indians and explorers, this extension of the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri to New Mexico, connected Santa Fe with California, playing a major factor in the development of the southern part of the state. that he could make a nice living by bringing blankets and other wool products Getting back to my Jeep, I drove a little further, coming upon stark evidence Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Hearing the distant rumble of a high-flying airliner, I looked up at the sky. The trail then proceeded north through difficult terrain to Spanish Valley near today’s Moab, Utah. Armijo led another band of traders toward California. ), The Desert Environment Franciscan missionaries, Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante unsuccessfully attempted the trip to California, which was just being settled, in 1776, making it only as far the Great Basin in Utah before returning to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Plank Road, Gray's Well Road West of Yuma lies the Algodones Dunes — great sand hills, some 200 feet high, constantly shifting and once complicating the development of a transcontinental highway to San Diego. Incorporating bits and pieces of routes used by Jedediah Smith and others, of me. As a result, Santa Fe would be able to sell its products overseas Just when I was beginning to wonder if I’d made the right choice, I spied of the Old Spanish Trail, the section that is open to the public in this area Barely discernable tire tracks veered off to the left. We use cookies. out here; the bone-jarring “washboard” surface was only interrupted by patches Once I was out of my Jeep and standing amidst these ancient rock formations, the way, Armijo and his group eventually made it to California’s San Gabriel Shortly thereafter, a returned to Santa Fe via a route used by two Spanish priests some 50 years before. Photo by Jack Prichett. a convenient way to “commute” to their intended targets - namely the California ruts, but the ruts were still obvious. The trail was officially blazed in 1829-30, when Santa Fe merchant Antonio Armijo combined the information from previous explorers and led a trade party of 60 men and 100 mules to California.

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