On The Santa Fe Trail

In a previous blog, I told you that I would soon be on my way to Fort Union, National Monument in northern New Mexico where I am the Artist in Residence for the next month.

Cimarron River – Cimarron National Grasslands

When I left home on Sunday, I drove west toward Independence, Missouri, the jumping off point for the Santa Fe Trail. The Trail was the primary source of supply to New Mexico from about 1820 to 1890. Fort Union was built in 1851 (after New Mexico and the rest of the southwest became U.S. Territory) to protect the wagons bring goods to the area from Missouri from Indian attacks and later as a distribution center for 40 plus other forts across the southwest.

My route roughly followed the old Santa Fe Trail across Kansas, down through the Oklahoma Panhandle and ultimately into New Mexico and Fort Union. Crossing the Kansas plains, in my mind, I imagined I was a teamster driving an ox drawn wagon to Fort Union. I saw the vast herds of Bison grazing. Prairie Falcons gyred over head or perched atop a lone cottonwood. I saw a Harlan’s Red Tailed hawk, pronghorn antelope, and some other latecomers like myself, ring necked pheasants.

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