Santa Fe Historic District

August 23, 2022

65 deg at 6:00, high 78

We have been passing the Pantry Restaurant every day, and there are always people sitting on benches outside, waiting to get in, so we went in for breakfast. Martha ordered an omelette, while I ordered sausage and eggs and blue corn cakes with a hint of cinnamon. The coffee was very good, the service excellent and the food very good. 

We returned to the Farmer’s Market for a quieter Wednesday edition. Sadly, the chicken pot pie people weren’t there, but there were plenty of fruits and vegetables. 

World’s best corn salesman with a joke for every customer

Now that the Indian Arts Festival was gone, we wanted to explore old town Santa Fe. A sign noted the end of the historic Santa Fe Trail. Another marked the end of the old Spanish Trail. As we have learned, the Indians have been using these routes for centuries.

From United States National Park Service-Map, Robert McGinnis-illustration,

“Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The route was pioneered by Missouri trader William Becknell, who left Franklin, Missouri in September 1821. Others before him had been arrested by Spanish soldiers once they neared Santa Fe, and most had been hauled south toward Mexico City to serve lengthy prison sentences. Becknell, however, was pleasantly surprised to find that Mexico had overthrown the Spanish yoke, and the new Mexican government – unlike their predecessors – welcomed outside trade. Not surprisingly, others got into the trade soon after Becknell returned, and by 1825 goods from Missouri were not only being traded in Santa Fe, but to other points farther south as well. Some traders used the so-called Mountain Route, which offered more dependable water but required an arduous trip over Raton Pass. Most, however, used the Cimarron Route, which was shorter and faster but required knowledge of where the route’s scarce water supplies were located.

From 1821 until 1846, the Santa Fe Trail was a two-way international commercial highway used by both Mexican and American traders. Then, in 1846, the Mexican-American War began, and a few months later, America’s Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail westward to successfully invade Mexico. After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the more settled parts of the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail boomed to unheard-of levels, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, missionaries, wealthy New Mexican families and emigrants.

In 1866, just a year after the Civil War ended, an unprecedented period of railroad expansion began in the new state of Kansas. Within two years, rails had been laid all the way across central Kansas, and by 1873, two different rail lines reached from eastern Kansas all the way into Colorado. Because the Santa Fe Trail hauled primarily commercial goods, this railroad expansion meant that the trading caravans needed to traverse increasingly short distances. During the early 1870s, three different railroads vied to build rails over Raton Pass in order to serve the New Mexico market. The winner of that competition, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, reached the top of Raton Pass in late 1878. Additional track mileage further shortened the effective distance of the Santa Fe. Then, in February 1880, the railroad reached Santa Fe, and the trail faded into history.” From

“Originally a Spanish town with a presidio surrounded by large defensive walls that enclosed residences, barracks, chapel, prison and the Governor’s palace. It was at the end of El Camino Real, the Spanish Royal Road from Mexico City.” (

The old town is very pretty, in pueblo style with a Spanish square and beautiful Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. It is still a center of trade, art and cultures. I loved walking through some of the art stores, where there are incredible works. Paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and baskets of the highest quality are displayed. In shop after shop, I was amazed, and I probably didn’t see  20% of them.

We had a nice lunch at The Burrito Company, sitting outside, across from the New Mexico History Museum. After lunch we went into the museum. With less than an hour on our parking ticket, we moved through, concentrating on the Indian art and discovery, passing up the wars and Santa Fe Trail. It expanded our already high opinion of Indian art from the festival. The work today has the advantage of modern techniques, but to see what they made in the 1200’s is amazing. 

I don’t know why, but walking around like this is very tiring. I tried to compare it to a hike. I know we haven’t walked as far as our hikes, and it certainly is on level ground. Maybe it is all the visual intake that makes you tired, but we had enough by 3:00. We left a lot unseen, but we also took a lot in.

  2 comments for “Santa Fe Historic District

  1. September 20, 2022 at 10:36 am

    Hi Greg- new to your blog via Ellen Kelly- so lovely to see your travels- it really inspires David and me to get out on the trail! Happy Streaming!

    • September 20, 2022 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Rebecca,

      It is so nice to have you join us on these adventures! We have had a great time, and have seen some cool places. I hope all is well with you and your family. Miss seeing you guys!


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