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Much of the Old Spanish trail was first established as trade and migration routes by Native Americans long before the arrival of Europeans. It was later heavily traveled in the 1830s and 1840s by hundreds of trappers, soldiers, and traders. Fur trapper Jedediah S. Smith was the first Anglo-American to visit present Iron County during his amazing journey of 1826. About a third of the 1,200-mile trail lies in Southern Utah with over 100 miles in Iron and Washington Counties. This trail in now marked in many areas by modern highways. The trail was a multithreaded trail akin to a braided stream. The trail split into two basic routes between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California. It had north and south branches in the eastern end and other branches in the western, Mojave Desert, section. It saw New Mexican goods carried west for sale in Los Angeles. The reverse flow to Santa Fe included mules and horses that were purchased, or stolen, in southern California. Emigrants from New Mexico and points east also moved westward over the trail. Although most trail travel was by mule pack train, some portions of the trail eventually saw some wagon traffic. The first wagons to follow the trail were discharged members of the Mormon Battalion after the Mexican War, traveling from San Diego to Salt Lake City. By the time time of the Spanish visit, the area was inhabited by semi-nomadic Piute Indians. These natives traveled and traded over an area ranging from Colorado to Mexico and California. Their descendants still live throughout southwestern Utah.
- Aug 23, 2006
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