The Old Spanish Trail 1829-1848
Between 1829 and 1848 woolen goods were transported by mule caravans from the Mexican outpost of Santa Fe to the Missions of Southern California on the Old Spanish Trail.
Annual mule pack caravans traveled the historic Old Spanish Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California. Traders from Santa Fe headed to San Gabriel Mission as a welcome destination. They brought woolen goods from New Mexico and returned with highly prized California mules and horses. Following ancient Native American trails, the trade route went into central Utah during Spanish Colonial days and continued as an emigrant trail during the Mexican period. Anglo trappers and military expeditions, including John Fremont, Kit Carson, and John Gunnison used various routes of what is now recognized as the Old Spanish National Historic Trail.
In June 1853, Lieutenant Edward Beale, accompanied by Gwinn Harris Heap detailed their travel route through this area. Head wrote “ ... we crossed the two forks of the Jaroso (Cebolla Creek and Powderhorn Creek) ... we rested for the night by a small shallow brook, very marshy, and swarming with mosquitos ... Numbers of deer and antelopes were seen; indeed, these sheltered valleys seem expressly intended as coverts for those gentle animals … Traders from Abiquiu come by it into these mountains to barter for peltries with the Utahs (Ute Indians).”