Travel the Trail: Map Timeline 1878 - 1880

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1878 - 1879
Santa Fe tracks reached Trinidad in September 1878. Construction of this line had begun at La Junta in May, following a February confrontation south of Trinidad that resulted in AT&SF crews gaining the right to build over Raton Pass. The Santa Fe's victory at Raton Pass eliminated the Kansas Pacific as a railroad competitor, and the Kansas Pacific route between Kit Carson, Las Animas, and La Junta was abandoned soon afterward. Trail length from Trinidad to Santa Fe = 202 miles.

 

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1879
Santa Fe tracks reached the top of Raton Pass and entered New Mexico on November 30, 1878, and in February 1879 crews extended the tracks to Otero. This impromptu camp, near the old Clifton House stage station (just south of present-day Raton), served as the temporary railhead while construction crews pushed toward Las Vegas. Trail length from Otero to Santa Fe = 176 miles.

 

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1879 - 1880
Santa Fe railroad tracks reached Las Vegas, New Mexico on July 1, 1879, and the first train entered the city three days later. Las Vegas served as the railhead (and eastern trail terminus) for the last few months that the Santa Fe Trail served as a long-distance route. Trail length from Las Vegas to Santa Fe = 64 miles.

 

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1880
The first Santa Fe railroad train entered Santa Fe, New Mexico on February 9, 1880, via an 18-mile spur track that Santa Fe County voters had funded in an October 1879 bond election. The entire 835-mile Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail, from Kansas City to Lamy and on to Santa Fe, could now be traversed by rail. After this date, the Santa Fe Trail either served local needs or fell into disuse.

 

Table 1. Length of the Santa Fe Trail, 1821-1880

Route Designation Acronyms: (C) = Cimarron Route, (M) = Mountain Route; Railroad Designation Acronyms: AT&SF = Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, D&RG = Denver & Rio Grande, KP = Kansas Pacific, UPED = Union Pacific Eastern Division

Date(s)

Eastern Terminus (Route Used)

Main Trail
Miles

Connecting
Road Miles

Total
Miles

1821 Franklin, MO (M) 934 0 934
1822-1828 Franklin, MO (C) 890 0 890
1829-1830 Various (perhaps Lexington, MO) (C) 837 0 837
1831-1845 Independence, MO (C) 800 0 800
1846-1847 Town of Kansas, MO (M) 832 0 832
1848-1860 Town (later City) of Kansas, MO (C) 788 0 788
1861-1864 Fort Leavenworth / Leavenworth City, KS (M) 785 49 834
1865-June 1866 Kansas City, MO (C) 788 0 788
June 1866-June 1867 Junction City, KS (via UPED) – connecting road via Fort Ellsworth,
76 miles, and Fort Zarah, 40 miles (C)
539 116 655
June 1867-Oct. 1867 Fort Harker, KS (via UPED) – connecting road via Fort Zarah (C) 539 40 579
Oct. 1867-June 1868 Hays City, KS (via UPED) – connecting road via Fort Dodge (C) 449 75 524
June 1868-Mar. 1870 Sheridan, KS (via UPED) – connecting road via Fort Lyon (M) 308 120 428
Mar. 1870-July 1873 Kit Carson, CO (via KP) – connecting road via Bent's Old Fort (M) 292 66 358
July 1873-Oct. 1873 Granada, CO (via AT&SF) – connecting road via Fort Union 224 99 323
Oct. 1873-Dec. 1875 Las Animas, CO (via KP in 1873, AT&SF in 1875) (M) 304 0 304
Dec. 1875-Apr. 1876 La Junta, CO (via KP and AT&SF) (M) 285 0 285
Apr. 1876-Sept. 1878 El Moro, CO (via AT&SF - D&RG connection, mail + stage route only) (M) 207 0 207
Sept. 1878-Feb. 1879 Trinidad, CO (via AT&SF) 202 0 202
Feb. 1879-July 1879 Otero, NM (via AT&SF) 176 0 176
July 1879-Feb. 1880 Las Vegas, NM (via AT&SF) 64 0 64
After February 1880 Santa Fe, NM (via AT&SF) 0 0 0

Last updated: July 31, 2018

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