The Santa Fe Trail
was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America
that connected Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe
, New Mexico
. Pioneered in 1821 by William Becknell, it served as a vital commercial and military highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. At first an international trade route between the United States
and Mexico, it was the 1846 U.S. invasion route of New Mexico
during the Mexican–American War.
The route crossed Comancheria, the territory of the Comanches, who demanded compensation for granting rights-of-way. Americans routinely traded with the Comanche along the trail, sometimes finding the trade in Comancheria more profitable than that of Santa Fe.