The Santa Fe Trail was a major route to the west from the central United States in the early part of the 19th century.
The trail stretched 900 miles, beginning in what is now the state of Missouri, and crossed what is now Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado to end in Santa Fe, in the present state of New Mexico.
The trail first came into heavy use in the 1820s, when Santa Fe was still in Mexican territory. Commercial traffic on the trail is considered to have started when a trader named William Becknell took wagons of goods to Santa Fe in 1821.
Typical traffic on the Santa Fe Trail consisted of Conestoga wagons pulled by teams of oxen. Goods going west would be items manufactured in the the United States, everything from household implements to playing cards. Going east would be Mexican goods such as furs, wool, and even silver.
Passage on the trail could be dangerous, but the route was active for decades, until the railroad made it obsolete in the 1880s.