The Santa Fe Trail
While the Oregon and California Trail was primarily a route for people to travel to the west, the Santa Fe Trail was used for trade and to transport military supplies during and after the Mexican War. Long before the Euro-Americans "discovered" the road to Santa Fe, Native Americans had traveled over roughly the same route on trading, hunting, and raiding expeditions. 

The Santa Fe Trail
The first American to travel the trail was William Becknell, who in 1821 led a party of traders to Santa Fe. Over the next few years many wagon caravans followed Becknell's route to and from Santa Fe and Missouri.

In 1825, an official government survey of the Santa Fe Trail was completed by George C. Sibley. In order to insure good relations with the Osage Indians along the route, a treaty was signed in August, 1825 in Council Grove. It gave Americans and Mexicans free passage along the Santa Fe Trail through Osage territory in exchange for trade goods valued at eight hundred dollars. A few days later, the Kaw Indians signed a similar treaty near present-day McPherson, KS.
About two-thirds of the trail's eight hundred-mile-length crosses through Kansas. Thousands of individual and freighting company wagons traveled in this region from 1821 to1866. By 1842, caravans of fifty to sixty wagons each were hauling $130,000 in goods over the Trail each season.


Oxen yoke used on the Santa Fe Trail is on display at the Kaw Mission.

Pulled by oxen and mules, the heavy freight trains traveled three or four abreast for better protection from the Indians. The ruts they left made the trails easy to follow.I

Normally, it took six to eight weeks to get from Missouri to Santa Fe with the wagon trains averaging twelve to fifteen miles a day. In 1848, on a bet, French-Canadian Francis Aubry set out to prove that it was possible to take three caravans to Santa Fe in one season. His shortest trip from Santa Fe to Independence took only five days and sixteen hours, but he ruined at least six horses.

Trade flowed both ways on the trail - manufactured goods, especially cloth flowed into New Mexico in exchange for silver, wool, and donkeys which traders took back east.

In 1880, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached Santa Fe, thus ending the Santa Fe Trail Era.
The Euro-Americans
European Traders
American Expansion
Santa Fe Trail
Historical Council Grove

How did Council Grove get its name?