The Old Spanish Trail 1776

On July 4, 1776, as the ink began to dry on the US Declaration of Independence on the East Coast, two Spanish priests began their journey to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the California missions. The priests were accompanied by a small number of explorers and a talented cartographer (a “cartographer” is the person who made the maps before Google). The men traveled through Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. The route that the party mapped eventually became the Old Spanish Trail, and later a well-used trade route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles, California. (Image from, painted by Paul Salisbury)

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