met this afternoon, three returning Santa Fé trading-companies ….
I stopped and conversed some time with one of the leading men of these companies.
He was intelligent, notwithstanding his soiled and ragged costume, and appeared
to be very candid in all his statements…. He said that the journey to
Santa Fé and Chihuahua was one of great fatigue and hardship, as he
knew, but that the journey to California was infinitely more so; that our lives
would be shortened ten years by the trip, and before we returned, if we experienced
such good fortune, our heads would be white, not with the frosts of age, but
from the effects of exposure and extreme hardships. This was not very cheering
information, and bidding him a polite good-day, we left him.
--- Edwin Bryant, 1846
drivers, freight haulers, minivans full of passengers and possessions, and
traffic jams pack the highways of Johnson County. Wagons, mules and oxen created
a similar scene 150 years ago.
Starting around 1821, Santa Fe traders traveled southwest for commerce.
In the 1840s, emigrants heading to Oregon and California shared parts of
the route through our area. Every spring, the vast emigrant migration to
the west and the movement of traders to and from Santa Fe created this historic
Even as urban development overtakes the rural landscape,
traces of this
endure. Travelers’ experiences on the overland journey to the
south for trade, or west for a better life, survive not only on the pages
of their journals, but also in the physical places we see today. This exhibit
highlights 10 of the many present day views of the route of historic overland
trails in Johnson County. next