Time Travel While Following The Spanish Trail
We all know about the Oregon Trail, but what about the Old Spanish Trail? Well, beware of dysentery and sit on something soft while we learn about the Old Spanish Trail.
The Old Spanish National Historic Trail was established by Congress in 2002.
The Old Spanish Trail spans more than 2,700 miles and through six states and one of those states happens to be Utah.
The Old Spanish Trail has Native American historical roots and was used by people bringing textiles from Santa Fe, New Mexico to trade mules and horses in Los Angeles beginning in the early 1800s. Parts of the trail were also used by fur trappers and later by railroad and military surveyors.
It wasn’t easy to get the Old Spanish Trail started. The trail linked two provinces of Mexico that were separated by extremely difficult topography and climatic extremes. Attempts began as early as 1776 and the route was only opened in 1829.
In 1829, Antonio Armijo, a merchant from Santa Fe, led approximately 60 men and a large mule caravan across a network of known trails blazed northward by trappers and traders with the Utes and backtracked along the route Spanish padres Dominguez and Escalante recorded as the returned to Santa Fe from southern Utah more than 50 years earlier.
I’m also working on a piece on the Dominguez and Escalante Trail, so keep an eye out for that.
People used the Old Spanish Trail for many uses and as a result several main routes and alternate routes sprung up. Some trail users chose to trade with the Utes as far north as Salt Lake and followed a path now labeled the “North Branch”, which led to Grand Junction, Colorado before heading south to rejoin the other major route from Santa Fe via Green River, Utah.
Several variants of these two routes were also used, but they all came together here in southern Utah, fanning out once again into separate trails from southern Nevada to southeastern California.
By the 1850s the trail fell out of popular use for other wagon-friendly routes.
The information for this piece has come from oldspanishtrail.org and citofenoch.org and the Cedar City Visitors Center all of which are linked. The pictures included in this article are from the trail markers and monuments in Enoch.
If you would like to see these monuments in person, they're located at 5270 North Enoch Road, 5263 North Enoch Road, and 4785 Santa Fe Trail.