2021: History Boy Summer (Part 22) Santa Fe Trail Markers

NOTE: Yeah, I know it’s technically Fall now – truth is, I have about 5 more of these in my drafts because I am behind on reading the books that go along with them! I may rebrand this if I keep going to more museums as the air gets cooler, but for right now, I doubt many will mind if I scoot the goalpost a tad. Hey, maybe it’s still summer somewhere?!

This is a quick edition of history boy summer, as it was a bonus find from my Second Battle of Independence Driving Tour Review all those weeks ago. In a small park near an area I used to live in, I noticed that The Daughters of the American Revolution had upgraded a small gravestone shaped marker that denotes one of the many places in this area where the Santa Fe Trail once sat. Now accompanied by historical placards, Salem Park is now a veritable small-scale outdoor museum with no less than 7 or 8 things to read.

Santa Fe Trail Markers; Salem Park – Independence, MO

It has been a few years since I lived near this park, and honestly I don’t drive over there too much, so it was a surprise to find it!

Background:

According to Wikipedia:

“The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century route through central North America that connected Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pioneered in 1821 by William Becknell, who departed from the Boonslick region along the Missouri River, the trail served as a vital commercial highway until 1880, when the railroad arrived in Santa Fe. Santa Fe was near the end of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which carried trade from Mexico City.

The route skirted the northern edge and crossed the north-western corner of Comancheria, the territory of the Comanche. Realizing the value, they demanded compensation for granting passage to the trail. American traders envisioned them as another market. Comanche raiding farther south in Mexico isolated New Mexico, making it more dependent on the American trade. They raided to gain a steady supply of horses to sell. By the 1840s, trail traffic through the Arkansas Valley was so numerous that bison herds were cut off from important seasonal grazing land. This habitat disruption, on top of overhunting, contributed to the collapse of the species. Comanche power declined in the region when they lost their most important game.

The American army used the trail route in 1846 to invade New Mexico during the Mexican–American War.

After the U.S. acquisition of the Southwest that ended the war, the trail was integral to the U.S. opening the region to economic development and settlement. It played a vital role in the westward expansion of the US into these new lands. The road route is commemorated today by the National Park Service as the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. A highway route that roughly follows the trail’s path, through the entire length of Kansas, the southeast corner of Colorado and northern New Mexico, has been designated as the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway.”

Reading:

When I was at the National Frontier Trails Museum (a future installment), I had a choice of hundreds of books on the Santa Fe Trail, but ultimately picked this one. I felt that it would be interesting to read some of the first-hand accounts of people that actually travelled on the trail, and what hardships they may have faced. Stay tuned for a review soon.

The Trip:

This was another quick excursion that doesn’t warrant much information on any roadside adventures I may have had. This park is located in East Independence on 24 highway and Blue Mills Road. If you are traveling towards Buckner or Lexington away from Independence, this is one of the last parts of the main part of town before you hit the rural area.

Conclusion:

By no means would I base an entire trip on visiting this particular park in independence unless you are looking for a place to have a picnic or something and you already live nearby. If you are traveling on 24 highway and have a little bit of time to spare, it is a nice little stop off before you head out of town. If you’re looking to venture into an actual museum that discuss is the various trails that started in independence MO, I would actually recommend visiting the National Frontier Trails Museum which will be in upcoming article. Side note: it’s nice to see that this park was updated, it had suffered some vandalism around the time when Pokémon Go got really big. People would stand around in the park because it was a Pokémon Gym, and eventually all the signs and up being defaced like most historical markers sadly do. I’m glad somebody spent some money to clean everything up and add more value to it.

This article is part of my summer series History Boy Summer, which you can keep up with by following this LINK.

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