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New Chapter Forming
The first meeting of the new OSTA San Salvador de Jurupa (Riverside/San Bernardino) chapter is scheduled for September 20th, from 7:00pm until 9:00pm in the meeting room in the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce building, 3985 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92501. All are welcome.
Plan puts new attention on Old Spanish Trail - Salt Lake Tribune Article
The National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management are developing strategic plans for administering the 2,800-mile network, with the goal of better identifying, interpreting, and preserving the trail that crosses southern Utah and five other states along multiple routes.
"This document identifies the trail as best as possible, and the areas where the values and qualities and recreational opportunities are the most viable, still intact and worthy of attention," said Rob Sweeten, the BLM's historic trail coordinator.
"We hope this strategy has refined the line that was drawn on the map in 2002. That was rough in nature," said John Hiscock, manager of the Old Spanish Trail Association. "We want to get the trail signed as well as possible for public knowledge. We want to develop educational and interpretive programs. We want to do the most to encourage the land agencies to develop recreational opportunities along the routes, retracement of trail, recreational trails that people can hike to relive the historic experience. We would seek the values connected with the trail protected, on federal land especially."
Read the full article
The National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management have released the long awaited Draft Comprehensive Administrative Strategy for the OSNHT.
Comments will be accepted from the public through October 17, 2016.
Formal comments will be submitted by the Old Spanish Trail Association. Other interested parties and individuals are urged to review the Strategy and submit their comments as explained at the webpage.
2016 OSTA Conference
Check for program updates by viewing these conference newsletters:
Announcing AZ-UT Auto Tour Guide
We are pleased to announcing a new guidebook "Driving the Old Spanish Trail Through Utah and Arizona" available through the OSTA retail site.
The Old Spanish Trail traverses some of the most beautiful and most challenging terrain in the West. You will develop a new appreciation of the difficulties facing the historic travelers as you drive the route they trod with mules through southern Utah and northern Arizona. Our modern roads and highways follow the historic route closely, since passage through the canyons and across the rivers of Utah and Arizona left, then as now, few options.
This guidebook gives you explicit directions, including some GPS points, to view terrain similar to what the Old Spanish Trail travelers saw, and points out historic landmarks and signage. 52 photos, 8 maps, 64 pages. Available for $9.50 plus shipping.
Backcountry Horsemen Commemorate 1200 mile Old Spanish Trail trading route
In September 2015 the Backcountry Horsemen of America organization commemorated the 1200 mile Old Spanish Trail trading route from Cajon Pass, CA, to Santa Fe, NM, with a team of riders who arrived on the Santa Fe Plaza in front of the Palace of the Governors.
For more information about the trek and to view a trailer about the documentary being made, see: Backcountry Horsemen of America.
Second Annual Historic Trails Encampment of Southern Utah
IRON SPRINGS, Utah, will be the site of the Second Annual Historic Trails Encampment of Southern Utah. The annual event is a family oriented activity and free to all persons. The event will include free campfire programs, educational exhibits, period demonstrations, weenie roasting/marshmallow toasting for children. Trail rides will parallel the National Historic Old Spanish Trail and California Trail/Salt Lake Road in horse drawn open wagons, Conestoga wagons and buggies. There will also be a variety of children's games, demonstrations, lectures and cowboy poetry for all participants.
Trail rides will begin in late afternoon of Saturday, July 25, 2015 with programs and campfire activities beginning at 6PM. The trails location is approximately 8 miles west of Cedar City, Utah, on Utah Highway 56 to the Port 15 intersection…, thence north west along the Iron County "Land Fill" road for 3 miles. The encampment site is the first structure on the right side of the highway.
Afternoon activities will include Mountain Main exhibits, blacksmithing, period demonstrations and flint knapping, horse rides, pioneer games, horse shoe pitching contests, bull throwing sessions, etc. and general variety of pioneer activities. The evening campfire program will include fireside “Cowboy Poetry,” a night sky orientation and lectures on trails history by Leo Lyman and Alva Matheson. The trails encampment is sponsored jointly by The Old Spanish Trail Association (OSTA) the Sons of Utah Pioneers, Cedar City Chapters. Trails facilities are provided by Spencer Bowman and Frank Nichols, Vice President of the Southern Utah Chapter of OSTA. The program is under the direction of Alva Matheson, Utah Director of the Old Spanish Trail Association and SUP Director of Treks and Monuments. (435) 586-9762.
Multimedia 360 Degree Tour Experience - Armijo Route
Announcing a new 360 degree multimedia trail experience.
Armijo Route - Multimedia Tour
- Click and drag to navigate within each panorama.
- Click on the Map icon (bottom left) to display an overview of the route.
- Click on the loop icons to go directly to a location.
- Alternatively, use the thumbnails (bottom centre) or the mule and horse journey icons (left and right) to travel along the trail.
- Each panorama has five to six embedded clickable hotspots with view additional content.
- Bandwidth can affect loading times so please be patient if it takes few seconds to display the information.
This virtual tour is optimized for HD screens. View with mobile devices or tablets for a more immersive experience.
Enjoy the trail!
Exhibition Opening: Moving Forward Looking Back
Moving Forward, Looking Back: Journeys Across the Old Spanish Trail
This artistic project explores the Spanish legacy found along the Old Spanish Trail combining photography, video and sound.
Moving Forward, Looking Back: Journeys Across the Old Spanish Trail started in March 2014 with a road trip across the Southwest of the Spanish photojournalist Janire Nájera.
She and her assistant Matt Wright followed the footsteps of trader Antonio Armijo, who opened the route of the Old Spanish Trail between the states of New Mexico and California in the 19th century.
During her trip, Janire met and interviewed Spanish descendants to analyze how the traditions of the first settlers have merged with local cultures influencing the creation and identity of today's pueblos and cities, revealing some traces of Spanish intangible heritage that remains across these states.
Nájera has captured her experience along the route in a daily log, a book and a photography exhibition that will travel across the U.S. and that premieres at the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain in Washington, D.C.
BLM Rejects Solar Development in Silurian Valley
The BLM rejects Iberdrola’s request to build a large solar plant in the Silurian Valley, CA . In doing so, the BLM upheld the principle that large solar plants should be restricted to CA/BLM-designated Solar Energy Zones. The BLM agreed that Silurian Valley should remain within the province of ecologically sensitive, scenic, and historically important areas.
LA Times - Will Renewable Energy Ruin an 'Irreplaceable' Mojave Desert Oasis?
A Spanish energy firm is proposing a wind and solar project that would cover 24 square miles of the Mojave Desert. Iberdrola Renewables wants to build a 200-megawatt wind farm that would sprout as many as 133 turbines reaching heights of 480 feet. Next door would be a 200-megawatt solar facility with 400 pairs of photovoltaic panels. The industrial facility would operate around the clock and be visible from nearly every point of the valley. READ MORE
Backcountry Horseman - Old Spanish Trail Trek
Backcountry Horsemen of America is planning an
Old Spanish Trail Trek for the autumn of 2014 and summer of 2015. The event will include
1200 miles of riding with pack stock from Cajon Pass, CA to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This ride will replicate and commemorate the Old Spanish Trail trading route that linked New Mexico with California during the years 1829 to 1848.
Watch the video.
Follow the trek on Facebook.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell meets with Anza Trail,
Arizona Trail and Old Spanish Trail Officials
On Saturday, August 9th at South Mt. Park in Phoenix, members of three active Arizona national trail organizations (Anza Trail Foundation, Arizona Trail Association, Old Spanish Trail Association) were pleased to meet the head of the Department of the Interior, the personable Secretary Sally Jewell.
The purpose of Jewell’s week-long travel with earlier stops in North Carolina, Indiana, and New Mexico, was to highlight the positive economic impact of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) over the past fifty years.
Established in 1964, LWCF does not use taxpayer dollars but revenue from off-shore federal oil and gas leases. The benefits to communities are huge: LWCF funds enable state and local governments to establish urban trails and parks, baseball fields, community green spaces; to provide public hunting and fishing access on public lands; to protect rivers, lakes and other water resources; to expand the interpretation of historic and cultural sites; and to conserve natural landscapes for wildlife and outdoor recreation use and enjoyment, including land acquisition to complete our nation's thirty National Scenic and Historic Trails.
OSTA Party Visits England
Eleven members of the Old Spanish Trail Association recently toured Cumbria, England and adjoining counties in England and Scotland as part of a tour hosted by the William Workman Chapter. In the group was a descendent of William Workman. In 1841 the Workman-Rowland Party traveled the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico to California.
Dinner at Dryburgh Abbey with Lady Strathmore (center left)
a cousin of the Queen.
Photo Gallery #1
Photo Gallery #2
Photo Gallery #3
Photo Gallery #4
Las Vegas Journal Review article on the Old Spanish Trail
The Las Vegas Journal Review ran an article on the Old Spanish Trail in the Sunday newspaper.
Arizona Trail Trek
Celebrating the trail and connecting Gateway Communities one step at a time.
The Arizona Trail Trek is an 800-mile thru-hike across Arizona to promote the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the Gateway Communities and the new official guidebook.
Sirena Dufault will kick off the Arizona Trail Trek at the Mexican border on March 14th, 2014 and reach the Utah border on May 31st. As she hikes up the state there will be 15 events at fun, funky locations in the Gateway Communities where hikers, bikers and equestrians can come together to talk trail, and enjoy live music, good food, and Arizona Trail Ale.
Arizona Trail Trek website
Listing of Gateway Events
Old Spanish Trail Adventure Video!
Recently, three American Conservation Experience (ACE) interns working for the BLM-Utah National Trails Program embarked on a truly unique adventure. Trekking more than 400 miles along the Old Spanish Trail in Utah. Watch their ADVENTURE VIDEO!
Proceedings Posted - PNTS National Conference in Tucson
Proceeding for the 14th PNTS National Scenic and Historic Trails Conference: Weaving the Tapestry of America’s Cultures,
Histories and Landscapes are now available at
Mojave River Chapter Hosts Old Spanish Trail Days in Barstow, California
A Vision for the National Historic Trails - PNTS
In the 2012/2013 winter issue of Pathways Across America, Gary Werner - Executive Director of the Partnership of the National Trails System supported the vision that national historic trails can serve the public with on-the-ground, recreational opportunities in both urban and rural settings.
This is an important aspect because, to date, most of the effort of agencies and trail organizations has been focused more on "telling the story" of the historic trails and interpreting the occasional historic site. The emerging, broader idea is that the National Trails Act (16 U.S.C. 1241) also calls for historic trails to serve the public as recreational routes so people today can walk in the footsteps of our ancestors.
The concept of recreational trail corridors are supported in the new BLM Trails Policy Manuals which direct BLM administrators to delineate right-of-ways for national historic trails. The Policy Manuals recognize that it is not enough to protect the ruts and historic artifacts; it is also important to preserve the landscape setting.
New Armijo Caravan Interpretive Sign Installed on Highway 89 in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
A new Old Spanish Trail interpretive panel was installed on Highway 89 between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona to commemorate the 1829 Armijo Caravan which passed through this area and officially opened east to west mule train commerce with California.
Mary Dewitz (BLM), Jim Page (OSTA Armijo chapter president), Matt Zweifel (BLM), and Jeff Frey (OSTA Red Pueblo chapter president) at the unveiling.
Ashley J. Hall Elected New OSTA President
Long-time Southern Nevada community and business leader, retired military officer and history buff BG Ashley J. Hall (Ret.) was elected as the President of the Old Spanish Trail Association at the annual board meeting on June 1, 2013 held in Cortez, Colorado.
Hall assumes the reins of the OSTA from Dr. Reba Wells Grandrud of Phoenix, AZ, who has served for the past four years.
Old Spanish Trail Featured in American Archaeology
The fall 2012 issue of American Archaeology featured the Old Spanish Trail. Read the article below.
Old Spanish Trail Featured in High Country News
"Once you know what you are looking for you start seeing these old roads everywhere, cutting across the land." The 49-year-old Pfertsh is tall and lean and wears a newsboy cap and black T-shirt. He gestures with quick hand-chops, the overlapping tribal-style tattoos on his arms adding a tinge of color to the landscape's sea of beige. He's spent most of the last two years seeking out faint patterns on the land for Montrose-based Alpine Archaeology. The ones he's showing me today happen to be remnants of one of the West's earliest, most important and least documented road systems: the Old Spanish Trail.
Read More of the March 19, 2012 High Country News Article
Los Angeles Heritage Day Celebrates Diverse History
On Sunday, April 29, 2012, the L.A. Heritage Alliance will host its Fourth Annual L.A. Heritage Day in partnership with El Pueblo Historical Monument, to share this history through tours, five museums, a scavenger hunt, children’s activities, presentations, giveaways, food, and other activities.
“In an area sometimes perceived as having no ‘real’ history, L.A. Heritage Day is an opportunity for people to learn about and enjoy the fascinating people, places, and events that have shaped Southern California,” said Cindy Olnick, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Conservancy. “It’s also a chance to learn about the incredible variety of local preservation groups, museums, libraries, and historical societies serving people today throughout Los Angeles County.”
This year’s L.A. Heritage Day will take place inside the historic Pico House at El Pueblo Historic Monument (http://elpueblo.lacity.org/), adjacent to Olvera Street and across the street from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is the birthplace of L.A., the original site of the early pueblo where the city was founded in 1781. Special tours of Olvera Street, Avila Adobe, Chinese American Museum, and Plaza Firehouse Museum will be available.
The San Gabriel Mission celebrates 240 years of religion, culture and turmoil
SAN GABRIEL - Richard Gilbert walked in to Mission San Gabriel Archangel on a hot Wednesday afternoon and he felt the touch of God.
"I feel more connected to God here than at any church," the visiting Chicago resident said. "I'm not sure what it is. You just feel closer to God in a mission. Maybe it's all the history."
The settlement is indeed full of history, said Chuck Lyons, a spokesman for the mission. It's a diary chronicling the birth, growth and turmoil of California, the Los Angeles basin and the San Gabriel Valley.
The mission was designed by Father Antonio Cruzado and named after the archangel Gabriel, the patron saint of earthquakes. Cruzado was originally from Cordova, Spain and built much of the mission with a Moorish influence, Lyons pointed out.
Its bell tower and outside stairway are different from the other missions, as is its construction from stone, brick and mortar instead of adobe. The mission also featured large wooden doors made from California redwoods, which are on display near the mission's museum.
"I believe we have more historical artifacts than any other mission," Lyons said. "Many are in need of restoration, but they are priceless, like family heirlooms of the San Gabriel Valley's history.
Read the full article.
360 Degree View of Fish Lake Cutoff Interpretation Displays
Explore the new Fish Lake Cutoff display in glorious 360 degree fashion. Use the zoom keys to read the interpretive display contents.
The Fishlake National Forest in Utah has been working to mark the general route of a portion of the Old Spanish Trail known as the Fish Lake Cut-off that crosses public lands administered by the Forest Service.
Visitors at the site are able to read about John C. Charles Fremont, Capt. John Gunnison, Kit Carson, Lt. George Brewerton and the Ute Chief, Walkara. Silhouette, life-sized pack trains can be found at the Johnson Valley and Doctor Creek interpretive panels.
Old Spanish Trail and Gunnison River Report
Mesa County, Colorado in partnership with various public and private organizations, has developed this plan to
recognize, promote and protect the Old Spanish Trail and Gunnison River Bluffs Trail (the Sister Trails)
• Developing a vision and goals for the area;
• Identifying, surveying and recording trail alignments through the area;
• Identifying trail standards to be used for construction and maintenance;
• Identifying signing standards;
• Identifying funding sources for trail and trailhead development and enhancements;
• Developing a Community Engagement Strategy; and
• Promoting long-term stewardship.
The Sister Trails area includes approximately 3,000 acres of bluffs and desert land along the Gunnison
River immediately south of Orchard Mesa and north of Whitewater, Colorado where the Old
Spanish Trail (northern branch) and historic wagon roads traverse the area.
Read the full report.
OSTA Member John Hockaday Featured in San Bernardino County News Article
Little did John Hockaday realize buying land and building a house on Lytle Creek Road 40 years ago would lead him to research the Spanish Trail and other landmark trails in the area. He recently presented his information to the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society.
Hockaday said a local, Grandpa Gretchel, told him about an old wagon road, and soon Hockaday found that the Spanish Trail, Mojave Indian Trail and the Los Angeles to Cajon wagon road all went through his property.
He said that Ute legend tells of a trade route from Utah to the California coast, used for thousands of years. The Mojave Indians were master traders from their villages near Needles. The Ute trade route joined the Mojave Trail and followed the Mojave River to near today's Silverwood Lake.
Read the full article.
Mountain Meadows Named National Historic Landmark
In June 2011,
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the Mountain
Meadows Massacre Site in Washington County in southwestern Utah as an a new National Historic Landmark. This meadow was the site on September 11, 1857, where 120
emigrants, most of them from Arkansas, were massacred by Mormon militiamen. It is a discontiguous district made up of two parcels, capturing two known locations of the events that occurred from September 7-11, 1857, and later burial, commemoration, and memorialization efforts that continue to the present.
The two parcels
include approximately 760 acres of the existing approximately 3,000-acre National Register of Historic Places
historic district listed in 1975. The landscape remains remarkably intact with an encircling range of mountains
confining an upland valley covered with native vegetation, primarily sage and short grass. Much of the
Mountain Meadows is used as pasture and range lands.
Visible on the landscape is
the trace of the California Trail/Old Spanish Trail. The natural features of the landscape are largely unchanged,
providing extraordinary integrity of location, setting, association, and feeling.
Historically Mountain Meadows provided fresh water and good pasture for travelers passing southwest to
California. It became a rest stop for man and beast, a place to replenish before entering upon the unforgiving
deserts of southern Nevada and California. According to historical accounts, the 19th-century landscape of
Mountain Meadows was much more lush than today, with grasslands dominating, and less deeply eroded with ravines and gullies.
John C. Frémont, passing through the Mountain Meadows in 1844, described the high
valley as “an extensive mountain meadow, rich in bunch grass, and fresh with numerous springs of clear water,
all refreshing and delightful to look upon.”
Read the National Register of Historic Place Nomination.
History Czar! Internet Podcast Features the Old Spanish Trail
The Old Spanish Trail as told by Liz Warren and Ashley Hall was featured on History Czar! Internet radio. The History Czar interviews leading experts in history and is an educational service providing information in an engaging format by hosts who love the subject.
Old Spanish Trail Podcast
Note: Depending on your internet connection you may have to wait a minute or two for the podcast to begin. Be patient.
Old Spanish Trail Featured on NPR Earth Notes
Listen to a KNAU Earth Notes broadcast featuring the Old Spanish Trail and the recent program to train OSTA Trail Stewards.
Back Issues of Spanish Traces Available On-Line
The complete library of Spanish Traces front covers and a sampling of free issues for download are available HERE.
Antonio Armijo's 1830 Diary
The Old Spanish Trail linking Santa Fe, NM to the San Gabriel Mission in California was officially opened in 1829/1830 by Mexican trader Antonia Armijo.
Read his official June 19, 1830 government report here.
In Search of Dominguez & Escalante Photographing the 1776 Spanish Expedition through the Southwest
Mac Gregor, Greg and Halus, Siegfried
Foreword by Frances Levine
Essay by Joseph P. Sánchez
More than two hundred years after the fabled Dominguez and Escalante expedition, Greg Mac Gregor and Siegfried Halus have created a remarkable visual record of the expedition. Using Escalante’s journal as their guide, the photographers followed the expeditionary route, circling through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona, and documenting the frontier as first witnessed by the Spanish explorers on horseback.
Quoting widely from Escalante’s journal, the authors present first hand accounts of the expedition alongside their photographic narrative. Essays by the photographers discuss their methodology and experiences as modern day explorers retracing the steps of the friars. In his historical essay, Joseph P. Sánchez writes about the lasting legacy of the Spanish expedition.
To order this book, visit the Old Spanish Trail Retail Store
Exploring Desert Stone: John N. Macomb's 1859 Expedition to the Canyonlands of the Colorado
Exploring Desert Stone: John N. Macomb's 1859 Expedition to the Canyonlands of the Colorado
Steven K. Madsen
Madsen’s work provides the first detailed investigation of the 1859 Macomb Expedition into western Colorado and the canyon country of Utah. Beyond his first-rate analysis, Madsen presents the most important elements of the venture’s documentary record, making this fascinating study and significant contribution to our understanding of the Southwest also a valuable resource for anyone who loves the American West.
The book contains many references to the Old Spanish Trail (eastern portion--NM, CO, UT). The mapping and scientific group followed the Main Branch of the Old Spanish Trail going out and part of the Armijo Route coming back to Santa Fe.
Macomb's beautiful map in the back pocket shows several post-1848 expedition routes, in addition to Macomb's. Mr. Madsen's text is masterfully written. His inclusion of diaries of two Macomb scientists provides reinforcement of Madsen's summary. Some superb drawings of trail features are matched to recent photos.
To order this book, visit the Old Spanish Trail Retail Store
Announcing "American Journey" CD
Original music and arrangements by American composers American Journey by Steven Sharp Nelson & Marshall McDonald and featuring the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Xun Sun, conductor. Includes the Old Spanish Suite: Sunrise, Rainstorm, March, and Celebration and four other musical selections. To order this CD, visit the Old Spanish Trail Retail Store
OSTA's Interactive Travel and Adventure Map
Our interactive map can help you plan your next travel adventure and enjoy a sampling of sites along the trail.
Old Spanish Trail Slideshow Video
Experience images of the Old Spanish Trail with original music from the Old Spanish Trail Suite (arrangements by American composers Steven Nelson & Marshall McDonald).
NEW! - Old Spanish Trail YouTube Video
Spanish Trail Suite - Video and Music DVD
The Spanish Trail Suite composed by Marshall McDonald and Steven Sharp Nelson and performed by the Orchestra of Southern Utah has teamed with Video Ideas Production of Chattanooga, Tennessee to create a new orchestra experience combining stunning time-lapse video of storms unfolding, moon rises, sunsets and re-creations of trail scenes.
The Spanish Trail Suite was commissioned by the Orchestra of Southern Utah with help from the National Endowment of the Arts and local foundations. The composers created a piece celebrating the three cultures which settled the West along the route of trails stretching from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. The interactive project produced by Video Ideas focuses on more than 100 miles of the Trail in Iron and Washington Counties.
Brent Tom, local Paiute caller, serves as the guest soloist for the Sunrise movement. His inspired performance adds depth to the first movement which honors the local Paiute Tribe.
Due to popular demand, the complete set of Spanish Traces back issues (1995-2011) is now available through the Old Spanish Trail Association.
The Old Spanish Trail was chosen as the subject of a new mural in Barstow's downtown business district. Main Street Murals developed this project as a four month, multi-curricular educational program involving 4th and 5th grade GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program students from six schools in the Barstow area.
The program involved a diverse schedule of workshops, presentations, field trips, making a life size mule, creative writing, and design sessions involving a broad group of local and community led organizations: Old Spanish Trail Association, Mojave River Valley Museum, Desert Discovery Centre, BLM, Barstow Public Library, MEEC, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Barstow.
The new mural was dedicated during the June 2007 Old Spanish Trail Annual Conference.
View a slideshow of the dedication ceremony.
View a full size image of the mural.
Order your copy of a special reprint of this Gregory Crampton and Steve Madsen classic In Search of the Old Spanish Trail. Proceeds benefit the Old Spanish Trail Association.
In his new role, Aaron Mahr will manage the National Trails System program
of the Intermountain Region, with offices in Salt Lake City and Santa Fe. The program has oversight for
nine National Historic Trails (Santa Fe, Trail of Tears, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, El Camino
Real de los Tejas, Old Spanish, Oregon, California, Pony Express, Mormon Pioneer), the Route 66
Corridor Preservation Program, and the Old Santa Fe Trail Building.
This report summarizes comments, feedback, and input received from the public in the spring
of 2006 during scoping for a proposed Comprehensive Management Plan/Environmental
Impact Statement (CMP/EIS) for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail (OSNHT). The
scoping reported here was conducted by a team of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and
National Park Service (NPS) planners, historians, archaeologists, and Native American
The Spanish Trail Suite was commissioned by the Orchestra of Southern Utah and the National Endowment of the Arts.
On January 18, 2006, the federal government issued a Notice of Intent to develop a Comprehensive Management Plan for the Old Spanish Trail. The public process will include a series of scoping meetings in communities along the Old Spanish Trail.
The Old Spanish Trail is now officially designated a National Historic Trail! President George W. Bush signed S.R. 1946 on December 4, 2002, and it became Public Law 107-325 granting NHT status to the Old Spanish Trail under the National Trails System Act. This 'happening' has taken over ten years to accomplish.
The next step in the process is for the Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, to designate the agency (or agencies) to begin Trail administration. A comprehensive management plan (CMP) / environmental impact study will be necessary before other significant activities by the administering agency can occur. The preparation of the studies will require funding, which the designation bill does not include.
And now the cooperative work begins, by the administrating agency assigned to the Trail and by the many “friends” of the Trail, including the Old Spanish Trail Association. It will likely be a couple of years before anything is significantly noted by the general public as far as signage along the roadways identifying the route of the OST, and kiosks with OST maps and interpretation of the Trail history. In the meantime, efforts will continue by OSTA to provide brochures at visitor centers and museums to promote education about this relatively unknown but remarkably interesting trail. Explorer John C. Fremont cited this trail to be the “longest, crookedest, most arduous pack mule route in the history of America.”
The Old Spanish Trail system is about to be recognized for what you and so many other trail enthusiasts have known all along - that it is a nationally historic trail worthy of federal designation. As a Westerner who likes a colorful tale as much as any, I have researched the history of this network of trails over the past several years. Widely known as the longest, most crooked, most arduous pack mule route system in the history of America, it is an important part of our national heritage.
I commend the work you have done through the Old Spanish Trail Association to preserve the trail for future generations and to raise public awareness of our diverse cultural heritage in the region by studying the trail.
Efforts made on the state level have also been significant. The Colorado division of the Bureau of Land Management worked on documenting and interpreting the route with local communities, such as Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction. In 1993, Colorado's State Parks Board of the Department of Natural Resources passed a resolution encouraging federal designation of the northern branch of the Old Spanish Trail, which is located near Grand Junction.
I was able to further the progress made at the local and state level in 1995 when I commissioned a study by the Department of the Interior to determine whether the Old Spanish Trail should be designated as a National Historic Trail. Based on the findings of that study, I introduced the Old Spanish Trail Recognition Act of 2002. This legislation is expected to be enacted into law by President George W. Bush before the close of the year.
The federal designation will help pay tribute to the cultures that are thousands of years old and have enriched America. It will also celebrate the many folks who populated the Old West and laid the foundation for how we live today.
This federal designation would not have been possible absent your support. There is no substitute for people who care deeply about the trail and can help others appreciate it. This law is an endeavor ten years in the making, and one well worth our time. Congratulations one and all for a job well done