top of page
Nuckoll's Web_Home Page_Grid 1.jpeg


Spanish/Mexican/Native Influence - Westward Expansion - Chuckwagon turns Railroad

Established in 1610, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the third oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States. Only St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565, and Jamestown, Virginia are older. It is also the oldest capital city in the U.S, serving under five different governments; Spain, Tewa Puebloans, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States.

The Pueblo Indians occupied Santa Fe until 1693, when Don Diego de Vargas reestablished Spanish control. At this time, Santa Fe grew and prospered as a city but was interrupted by frequent Indian attacks by the Comanche, Apache, and Navajo tribes. As a result, Santa Fe citizens allied with the Pueblo Indians, which brought a more peaceful settlement. However, the Spanish policy of a closed empire heavily influenced many people’s lives in Santa Fe during these years because trade was restricted to Americans, British and French.

Santa Fe remained Spain’s provincial seat until 1821 when Mexico won its independence from Spain, and Santa Fe became the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. At this time, the Spanish policy of a closed empire ended, and American trappers and traders moved into the region. William Becknell soon opened the l,000-mile-long Santa Fe Trail, leaving from Franklin, Missouri, with 21 men and a pack train of goods. Before long, Santa Fe would become the primary destination of hundreds of travelers seeking to trade with the city or move further west.

With the arrival of the telegraph in 1868 and the coming of the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880, Santa Fe and New Mexico Territory underwent an economic revolution. Corruption in government, however, accompanied the growth, and President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Lew Wallace as a territorial governor to “clean up New Mexico.” Wallace did such a good job that Billy the Kid threatened to come up to Santa Fe and kill him.

Santa Fe Trail Turns Railroad

The Santa Fe Trail was America’s first commercial highway. Traders established the trail—which
connected Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico and covered some 900 miles of the Great Plains
—in 1821. Before its demise due to the completion of the Santa Fe railroad, the Santa Fe Trail
served as a thoroughfare for countless traders, pioneers and America’s military, and it played a
crucial role in America’s westward expansion.

The Santa Fe Trail was mainly a trade route but saw its share of emigrants, especially during
the California Gold Rush and the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush in Colorado. The trail also became an
important route for stagecoach travel, stagecoach mail delivery and as a mail route for the
famed Pony Express.

Santa Fe Railroad built in 1880 - a new means for westward expansion.

In 1887 The Santa Fe Railroad reached Los Angeles, CA

The Santa Fe’s arrival created Southern California as a coveted destination for Easterners and Midwesterners, and marked the culmination of the famous injunction to “Go west!”

Fevered promoters marketed greater Los Angeles as paradise, and it pretty much was: a place of eternal sunshine, studded with exotic palm trees and bright with roses year-round. It was an Eden from which navel oranges could be shipped in the Santa Fe’s ventilated or refrigerated boxcars to delight Americans everywhere.

Santa Fe Trail Turns Railroad

Spanish Spirits/Flavors




Navel Orange

The American Dream

Soda Pop - Rootbeer
Gold Rush (Cocktail)
Old West - Frontier America
Saloon Culture

Mexico Spirits/Flavors


New Mexico

Green Chile

Blue Corn

Chimayo Spices


Local Chaparral

Important Figures

Billy The Kid

The New Mexico Territory, which encompassed Arizona, was an unruly, violent, sparsely populated place in the late 1800s. Author Michael Wallis noted that, “the homicide rate in the New Mexico Territory was 47 times higher than the national average, with gunshot wounds as the leading cause of death.” The region was responsible for “at least 15% of all murders in the nation.” Men, traumatized and hardened by the Civil War, migrated west. Shooting someone based on an argument was not unusual. It was in this environment that Henry Antrim came of age.

Jean-Babtiste Lamy

On July 23, 1853, the Vicariate of New Mexico was raised to the Diocese of Santa Fe, and Lamy was appointed its first bishop. His early efforts as bishop were directed to reforming the New Mexico church, the building of more churches in the territory, the creation of new parishes, and the establishment of schools. He ended the practice of concubinage widely practiced by the local priests and he suppressed religious brotherhood societies within individual communities. He participated in the First Vatican Council from 1869-1870.

Lamy was responsible for the construction of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (commonly known as St. Francis Cathedral) and Loretto Chapel.

William Becknell

(1788-1856) – Known as the “Father of the Santa Fe Trail,” Becknell was the first to blaze the

William Barstow Strong

Manager of the Santa Fe Railroad - a veteran railroad man with kindly eyes and an Old Testament beard that ran well down his chest. A big believer in big, he operated by one principle. “A railroad to be successful must also be a progressive institution,” he wrote. By progressive he did not mean politically. “It cannot stand still....If it fails to advance, it must inevitably go backward and lose ground already occupied.” His answer to every business question was to lay down track, and then lay down some more.

bottom of page