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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.
Christmas Tree Lighting Event on the grounds of the St. Therese Mission
Adjacent to the Old Spanish National Historic Trail that once served as a vital trade route for caravans between New Mexico and California, the St. Therese Mission site provides opportunities to explore America’s history and to learn and practice the ‘Little Way’ of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the ‘greatest Saint of modern times’ against the backdrop of the rich and diverse environment of the Mojave Desert.
OST Days in Tecopa, California a Huge Success!
Members of the Old Spanish Trail Association (OSTA), the BLM, National Park Service (NPS), and other trail enthusiasts recently gathered in Tecopa, California to celebrate the National Historic Trail. The Old Spanish Trail Day event was hosted by OSTA and sponsored by the BLM, the NPS, Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, China Ranch Date Farm, Resting Springs Ranch and other organizations interested in protecting the legacy of the trail. The event included talks by national and local historians, guided field trips to trail segments, and a barbecue with traditional “western trail” music. Read More
Old Spanish Trail Featured in American Archaeology
The fall 2012 issue of American Archaeology featured the Old Spanish Trail. Read the article below.
“Weaving a Legacy” Exhibit at Pipe Spring National Monument
For thousands of years local Native Americans weavers have used an incredible variety of materials, tools, and techniques to craft useful and beautiful items. The Pipe Spring National Monument and the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians museum is featuring a special exhibit called “Weaving a Legacy” and a series of interpretive programs.
Made possible with museum collections from Pipe Spring National Monument, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management, the Southern Utah University Archaeology Repository, the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians and individual tribal members, this exhibit allows us to look into weaving’s past and present.
“Weaving a Legacy” will be available for viewing through November 2012. For the complete listing of programs, visit www.nps.gov/pisp or call 928-643-7105. Pipe Spring National Monument is located 15 miles west of Fredonia, AZ on AZ 389 or 45 miles east of Hurricane, UT on UT 59 and AZ 389.
Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development released
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Department of the Interior, in partnership with the Department of Energy, will publish the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development in six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The final Solar PEIS represents a major step forward in the permitting of utility-scale solar energy on public lands throughout the west.
The Solar PEIS will serve as a roadmap for solar energy development by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, the fewest resource conflicts and incentives for development within those zones.
Read the full press release and/or the final report and view the 6-state map.
Chimney Rock National Monument Bill Passes the House
H.R. 2621, the Chimney Rock National Monument Establishment Act ion May 16, 2012 passed in the House by unanimous consent.
Photo credit: Mark Roper
The Old Spanish Trail Association signed a letter of support for the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan National Forest. Chimney Rock is arguably the most important cultural site managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Exhibiting many of the features that earned Chaco Canyon a World Heritage Site listing, Chimney Rock was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Between A.D. 925 and 1125, the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians occupied Chimney Rock and the surrounding lands, and the site remains of cultural significance to many descendant tribes. Hundreds of cultural elements surround Chimney Rock’s soaring twin rock spires, including the Great House Pueblo. Chimney Rock is the most northeasterly and highest (7,600 feet) Chacoan site known to exist. Every 18.6 years the moon, as seen from the Great House Pueblo, rises between the rock spires during an event known as the Northern Lunar Standstill.
The Main Branch of the Old Spanish Trail passes into Colorado out of the Carson National Forest, 15 miles south of this hill.
Old Spanish Trail Association Intervenes on
Hidden Hills Solar Project
The Old Spanish Trail Association concerned about the impact of cultural resources by the proposed Hidden Hills Solar Project has intervened in the case arguing that early portions of the trail run immediately south of the project site
and may, in fact, cross part of the HHSEGS project.
Since 2007, OSTA has been
locating and recording segments of the Old Spanish Trail between Tecopa, CA, and the Nevada
OSTA possesses extensive information on the Old Spanish Trail and is a recognized entity to
speak for the Trail. OSTA requested to participate fully in all matters pertaining to
cultural resources, visual resources, and the Old Spanish Trail and to contribute
documented scholarship and field data to show that the HHSEGS project impacts the
Old Spanish Trail.
Docket for Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System Power Plant Licensing
2012 Trail Stewardship Workshop in Taos, NM
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