Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe Trail (1821-1880) - Established in 1821 by William Becknell as an overland trail that ran from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The trail had two branches at the mid point, one leading by Bents Old Fort in present day Colorado (the mountain route) and the southern desert route (cimarron trail).
The two branches joined up again near Fort Union, New Mexico. The mountain route was longer but had abundant food and water and a mid point provisioning stop at Bents Old Fort. The southern route was shorter but had little water along the route and was plagued by hostile Indians.
The Santa Fe Trail was used during the Mexican War in 1846 as one of the invasion routes into Mexican territory. The Santa Fe Trail was used by the Mormon Battalion on their march from Kansas to San Diego in 1846.
As the railroads expanded west after the U.S. Civil War the trail use declined and by 1880 the trails were little used.