The Spanish Crown discouraged foreign trade with the province of Nuevo México. Newly-independent Mexico reversed this policy in 1821, and Becknell's trip marked the first legal trade between the US and New Mexico.
A Successful Journey
Becknell's journey was successfuI, and returned to Franklin with $6000 in profit. He promptly began planning a second trip.
Becknell’s party travelled approximately 934 miles to reach Santa Fe.
For most, it took 8-10 weeks to travel from Independence or Westport, Missouri.
Though Becknell’s original route was from Missouri to Santa Fe, traffic was multi-directional.
Not only did the Trail move goods, but it also spread ideas, cultures, and people.
Conestoga Wagons could hold 2-3 tons and were pulled primarily by mules & oxen. In some places, you can still see the ruts left by wagons, animals & people.
By 1866, the trail became shorter as the railroad pushed Westward. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe, ending the trail.
Timeline of 1821 Santa Fe Trail Journey
1821 - September 1
William Becknell’s party begin their journey
1821 - September 27
Mexican Independence opens Santa Fe to trade
1821 - November 13
A New Mexican militia meets & escorts the party to Santa Fe
1821 - November 16
Becknell’s party arrives in Santa Fe
1822 - December 13 - January 30
Becknell travels back to Franklin, Missouri
Description of Map
The map shows the route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail which begins in Franklin, Missouri and crosses Kansas where it splits into two routes. The mountain route crosses the southeastern corner of Colorado and the Cimarron Route crosses the northwestern corner of Oklahoma. The two routes meet in New Mexico before reaching Santa Fe.
Last updated: June 8, 2021