What is a Chapter? A Santa Fe Trail Association (SFTA) chapter is a regional representative of the Santa Fe Trail Association, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting, and educating the public about the historic Santa Fe Trail. The Santa Fe Trail was a significant trade route that connected Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the 19th century, playing a crucial role in the westward expansion of the United States. These chapters are geographically dispersed, often covering specific regions along the Santa Fe Trail or areas with a strong historical connection to the trail.
Why join a Chapter? One of the primary goals of the Santa Fe Trail Association is to preserve the historical sites, landmarks, and traditions associated with the Santa Fe Trail. Local chapters play a crucial role in this effort by focusing on the preservation and education of their specific areas. They may undertake projects to restore and maintain trail-related sites, host educational programs, and engage with their communities to raise awareness about the trail's significance. Joining a local chapter is important to the Santa Fe Trail Association because it allows for a more focused and localized approach to preserving and promoting the historical significance of the Santa Fe Trail. These chapters are instrumental in carrying out the association's mission on a grassroots level and connecting with communities along the trail, ultimately contributing to the broader efforts to preserve this vital part of American history.
Which Chapter do I Join? The Santa Fe Trail Association has many state chapters including Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Click below to learn more and join one or more chapters!
Although the branch of the Santa Fe Trail through Colorado was known as the Mountain Route, it passes largely over the level plains of the southeastern part of the state. It wasn’t, however, called the Mountain Route for nothing. As the Trail pushed west into Colorado, caravans used today after day of level Kansas prairies got their first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains ahead. A man-made landmark awaited them as well: Bent’s Fort, a trading post whose towering adobe ramparts and amenities like a billiard table and library must have seemed at first like yet another prairie mirage to trail-worn travelers. Artist Doug Holdread’s painting on the banner of our Bent’s Fort chapter page depicts the Big Timber area on the Arkansas River east of the fort. A popular stopping place for caravans, it was one of the first large stands of trees travelers encountered after the prairies of Kansas, and would eventually be the site of Bent’s second trading post.
As the road to Santa Fe angled southwest, the mountains on the western horizon became the caravans’ constant companions. The Trail edged ever closer to the outliers of the Rockies, and mountains with names like the Sangre de Cristos and Spanish Peaks hinted to travelers that they were edging ever closer to Hispanic New Mexico.
At the southern edge of Colorado, the mountains skirting the western edge of the Trail finally threw themselves squarely across it, forcing the heavily laden Santa Fe freighters to labor up rocky Raton Pass. Once across, the Mountain Route would push south to rejoin the Cimarron Route on the road to Santa Fe.