The Santa Fe Trail
©1995 by Beverly Whitaker, Genealogy Tutor
Route of the Santa Fe Trail
The 1821 William Becknell's expedition started out from Franklin, Missouri. The next year he made his departure from Arrow Rock, Missouri, just west of Franklin. As the Missouri frontier expanded, supplies boated upstream from St. Louis were landed at Fort Osage, and it became the departure point for caravans on the Santa Fe Trail. Gradually, the point of departure changed to Independence and later to Westport. By 1843, Westport was the eastern terminus of the Santa Fe Trail.
Becknell, in his second expedition in 1822, decided to blaze a wagon road. To that end, he chose to avoid the mountains and steer directly toward Santa Fe, leaving the Arkansas River and heading across the arid plains for the Cimarron. This wagon route became known as the Cimarron cutoff.
Santa Fe, situated on a high plain surrounded by mountains, was the terminus point of the trail. Originally, the city was an outpost on the Mexican frontier far from the Mexico City government. During much of the early years, commerce was directly related to the Indian and fur trade operating out of Taos and Santa Fe. In 1848, with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago ending the Mexican War, Santa Fe became United States territory. At this point, the entire Santa Fe Trail was completely and officially within American territory.
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