Western Expansion for Kids - The Santa Fe Trail
The Oregon Trail was a route taken by wagon trains of people moving west, seeking a new home. They were looking forward to settling in the far west. Their wagons were filled with food for the trip, along with tools and personal items. Each family had their own wagon. Families traveled together for safety. They were usually led by a guide. The trip on the Oregon Trail took between 4-6 months.
The Santa Fe Trail was different. The Santa Fe was a commercial trail. Wagons carried goods and supplies back and forth from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The trip took about 8 weeks. From 1881 until 1880, there were about 300 wagons going back and forth with traded goods and supplies. Drivers were paid and armed. It was a dangerous trip. There were attacks by Indians, bandits, storms, and wild animals. When the railroad was built, merchants stopped using wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, and switched the hauling of good and supplies to trains.
One of the most famous things about the Santa Fe Trail is a town that serviced it - Dodge City, home of Wyatt Earp. After the railroad was extended through Dodge, the settlement attracted saloons, buffalo hunters, soldiers, railroad workers, blacksmith shops, and general stores.