Copyright

The Santa Fe Trail Lesson for Kids: Facts & History

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Oregon Trail Facts: Lesson for Kids

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Sante Fe Trail
  • 0:53 Origins of the Trail
  • 1:54 Use of the Trail
  • 2:46 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

How would you have traveled to the western part of the United States without a car, train, airplane, or bus in the 1800s? Find out how the Santa Fe Trail got started and how it changed in this lesson.

Santa Fe Trail

In the early 1800s, the United States looked very different from the way it does today. The country was acquiring new states, but there were no trains, cars, or airplanes to take people to these areas. Instead, people had to travel by wagons, usually pulled by animals called oxen, which was a much slower way to go.

As more people made the trip westward, they started following certain routes, or ways, to get from one place to another. One of the most famous routes was the Santa Fe Trail, which went from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Between 1821 and 1880, thousands of people used the trail to move not only themselves but also animals and goods.

When you hear the name 'Santa Fe Trail,' you might think of a set path. However, the trail changed many times over the years due to conflicts with Native Americans, flooding, wars, and other events.

Origins of the Trail

While Spain still ruled New Mexico, traders from the United States were not allowed to do business in the area. After Spain lost power in 1821 and New Mexico became part of Mexico, American traders began looking for new ways to sell their goods.

William Becknell was a trader from Franklin, Missouri, who opened the trail. Along with five other people, he traveled to Santa Fe where he made money from trading before returning home. Becknell traveled 934 miles in a trip that took less than three months. The next time Becknell visited Santa Fe, he used the shorter Cimarron Route, traveling toward the Cimarron River and over the mountains.

Soon, caravans, or groups of pioneers and wagons, traveled this route, looking to do business and make money in Santa Fe. Fearing attacks from Native Americans, the caravans hoped that by traveling together, they could defend themselves.

During and after the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the U.S. Army used the Santa Fe Trail. After the war, New Mexico became a territory of the United States (1850).

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support