Old Spanish Trail

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United States  >  Migration  >  Trails and Roads  >  Old Spanish Trail

Historical Background

The Old Spanish Trail was an overland pack-train trade route more than a pioneer migration trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles California from 1829 to the mid-1850s. Portions of the trail were explored as early as 1776 but left mostly unused. In 1829-1830 the Santa Fe merchant-explorer combined information from several previous explorations and led a group of 60 men and 100 pack animals from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. Indian goods like blankets were traded for California horses. Later in the history of the trail an extensive Indian slave trade developed which had a significant impact on Indian tribes along the route.[1]

Part of the reason the Old Spanish Trail was used was because it linked via the Santa Fe Trail to the United States, and via the the Camino Real to Chihuahua and Mexico City. [2]


There were very few European settlements on this rugged route between Santa Fe and Los Angels except near each end of the trail.


Europeans did not tend to settle along this trade route in communities. However, because of the slave trade along trail the Indian tribes were cautious, hostile, and themselves engaged in slave trading and raids.

External Sites


  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Old Spanish Trail (trade route)" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Spanish_Trail_(trade_route)(accessed 21 July 2009).
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Camino_Real_de_Tierra_Adentro (accessed 19 July 2009).