The Santa Fe Trail
Its History, Legends, and Lore
By David Dary
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780375403613, 400pp.)
Publication Date: November 14, 2000
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From 1610, when the Spanish founded the city of Santa Fe, to the 1860s, when the railroad brought unprecedented changes: here is the full, fascinating story of the great Santa Fe Trail which ran between Missouri and Kansas and New Mexico--a lifeline to and from the Southwest for more than two centuries.
Drawing from letters, journals, expedition reports, business records, and newspaper stories, David Dary--one of our foremost historians of the Old West--brings to life the people who laid down the trail and opened commerce with Spanish America: Native Americans and mountain men, traders, trappers, and freighters, surveyors and soldiers, men and women of many different nationalities. Their firsthand accounts let us experience up close the spectacular scenery; the details of camping out in both friendly and hostile Indian territory; the constant danger from natural disasters or sudden attack; the hardworking, often maverick men who were employed on the wagon trains; the pleasures and entertainments at the southern end of the journey.
The book makes clear how in the early years trade started and stopped at the whim of the Spanish, and how the trail finally grew and prospered, bringing the settlement of new towns and the creation of new wealth along the route. We also learn how the rapid spread of the railroads across the country inexorably replaced the long caravans of mule- and ox-drawn wagons, and the way of life they represented.
With his comprehensive knowledge and his exceptional storytelling skills, David Dary has given us a vivid re-creation of an important time and place in American history.
David Dary, a native of Manhattan, Kansas, worked for CBS News and NBC News in Texas and Washington, D.C., and for many years taught journalism at the University of Kansas. He then headed the School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma, from which he recently retired. Dary is the author of eight previous books on the West: The Buffalo Book, True Tales of the Old-Time Plains, Cowboy Culture, True Tales of Old-Time Kansas, More True Tales of Old-Time Kansas, Entrepreneurs of the Old West, Seeking Pleasure in the Old West, and Red Blood and Black Ink. He is the recipient of a Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award, two Western Writers of America Spur Awards, and the Westerners International Best Nonfiction Book Award. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
“Commendably lucid . . . a wonderful job of resurrecting the past É For anyone wishing to visit this remarkable region up close and personal.”–JoAnn Levy, San Francisco Chronicle
“The story of the Western frontier is to the American imagination what Hector and Achilles were to the Greeks . . . Interesting, informative and–with period illustrations and photographs–handsomely published.”–Geoffrey Norman, Wall Street Journal
“A grand, sprawling story, populated by characters whose voices emerge loud and clear from their journals and letters . . . an unforgettable procession of dreamers and doers, losers and winners, villains and heroes (and heroines) in a well-told and carefully researched tale.”–David Haward Bain, New York Times Book Review
“A masterful treatment of a great American emblem.”–Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times