Identifying Traces Of The Old Spanish Trail: A Five-Year Project Update

Old Spanish Trail

Publication: Bureau of Land Management, Barstow Field Office, Vol 34

Author: Alexis Francois & James Shearer

Date of Publication: 2020



The Old Spanish Trail is a historic trade route that connected the northern New Mexico settlements of Santa Fe, New Mexico, with those of southern California. Approximately 700 miles long, the trail ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons from 1829 to 1849. It is considered one of the most arduous of all trade routes ever established in the United States. The Bureau of Land Management is dedicated to the protection and stewardship of this historic trail. The Barstow Field Office has been actively engaged in the continuous and ongoing mapping and documentation of the Old Spanish Trail as it cuts through the Mojave Desert. The goal of this project is to identify, document, and nominate portions of the trail to the National Register of Historic Places for further management and protection. The utilization of primary documents, aerial imagery, previous research, and GIS has allowed us to effectively document physical traces of the trail. The discovery of diagnostic artifacts related to the Old Spanish Trail and Mormon Road also aid in this endeavor. This article provides updated information on the current status of the project and its developments over the last five years.