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Old Spanish Trail

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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The Old Spanish Trail connected Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Travelers from Santa Fe aimed for Misión San Gabriel as a welcome destination and gathering place. Traders brought woolen goods from New Mexico and returned with highly prized California mules and horses.

Jan 1830Trade between the United States and the new Republic of Mexico expanded. Santa Fe traders saw a potential for profits in direct trade between the California ranchers and church missions. In fall 1829, well after Mexican independence from Spain, Antonio Armijo led a caravan westward from Santa Fe. He arrived at the San Gabriel Mission in January 1830 with 60 men and pack mules loaded with woolen goods. Armijo returned to Santa Fe that spring with an additional 100 horses and mules. Thus a trade and communication route was established between the Mexican provinces of New Mexico and California -- the Old Spanish Trail was born.

After Antonio Armijo's successful expedition, Misión San Gabriel became a focal point for lucrative trade. Traders, trappers and travelers coming west gathered to conduct business with the Californios. As one of the most prosperous missions, the Padres were able to lavish food, rest and shelter to the weary travelers.