Research about Santa Fe Trail events and routes is ongoing. The National Park Service works cooperatively with scholars, site managers, and others to learn more about trail-related stories and sites. A primary way in which the National Park Service stimulates trail scholarship is through the Challenge Cost Share Program. Since 1990, the agency has worked with a number of partners — the Santa Fe Trail Association, universities, museums, historical societies, and other nonprofit entities — on Santa Fe Trail projects. Many of the results of those projects have been published in issues of Wagon Tracks, which is the Santa Fe Trail Association’s quarterly newsletter. Many of these projects have brought forth new historical trail information; new or modified trail segments have been identified; several buildings have been identified as being thematically related to the Santa Fe Trail; several roadside interpretive exhibits have been erected; and new museum exhibits have been developed and are now on display.
If you have a project idea that can add new historical information or challenge existing notions about the trail, contact the National Trails Intermountain Region staff. Please use the Contact Us link on the left-hand navigation bar.
For those who would like to undertake additional research about the Santa Fe Trail, many sources are available. Historians can access a vast number of diaries, journals, and secondary sources on the subject. Although published some 40 years ago, the standard reference work on the trail, with more than 700 sources listed, is Jack D. Rittenhouse's The Santa Fe Trail: A Historical Bibliography (Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press). Selected trail-related sources are noted in the bibliography. Those interested in further research may wish to consider the following facilities:
Before visiting any of these facilities, please contact the archival staff regarding the purpose of your visit and the nature of the records that you want to investigate.
Did You Know?
In 1821, the eastern terminus of the historic Santa Fe Trail was Franklin, Missouri; by 1832, Independence, Missouri; and by 1845, at Westport Landing, now Kansas City, Missouri. Textiles and hardware were traded west; silver and mules were traded east.