Great visuals explaining the history of westward expansion in the USA.
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Collecting antique maps can take you to unusual places. A few days ago I took some time off to hike around a fabulous section of hills and mountains that surround Interstate 25 East of Santa Fe, close to the Old Santa Fe Trail.
Hiking from a major transportation route is not usually my favored destination, however this section is in proximity of much older routes. In the same pass where vehicles speed by on I-25 are the remnants of the old original Santa Fe trail which linked over a 100 years ago Franklin, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The trail was established to trade goods with Santa Fe which was a major outpost of Northern Mexico. The trail crossed Indian lands to link the US to Santa Fe through what is today’s Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico. It started in 1821 after the independence of Mexico from Spanish colonial rule until the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s and was then still used by travelers on horseback.
My hike took me to a volcanic ridge over-looking the interstate and the old Santa Fe trail to the North. To the West opened up the Rio Grande valley with the 400 year old city of Santa Fe spreading ever further from its historical center at the feet of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which themselves are the Southern most point of the Rockies.
Looking East the Rocky mountains taper down to some lower hills and plateaus. This flatter area is the very reason the Santa Fe trail followed where it did as the terrain North through the mountains is impracticable for travel. From my vantage point one could clearly see the obstacles that hindered travel and to this day vehicles follow the easiest path to the Great Plains to the East by hugging the Southern most reaches of the great mountains of the Rockies.
I have been familiar with the trail having sold hundreds of old maps depicting the Santa Fe trail when that trail was actually being used. This historical first hand knowledge brought much insight to my hike and led me to wander off in thoughts of US western expansion and of their fight with other colonial powers in claiming the West.
Truly a great hike in which the peaks of the Rockies, the city of Santa Fe and the great open expanses to the South and East can be seen.
Go visit our online gallery at www.MAPSandART.com and follow your heart’s desire.
A lot of our map customers ask us for recommendations for further reading. Here is our first recommendation.
How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein
This is an interesting and easy to read book about the history behind the borders of each state. For example, why is the border between Tennessee and Kentucky not a straight line? You can find the answer to this and much more in this book.
Available on Amazon (isn’t everything?)