An old church:
We crossed the Cimarron River
. I had read a little bit about the history of the Santa Fe trail, and the Cimarron cutoff -- faster, but with the risk of no water availability.
"Historically, the Santa Fe Trail
branched southward from the Arkansas to the Cimarron. One branch was known as the Cimarron Cutoff, and another, the Aubry Cutoff. The lack of water along the Cimarron Cutoff route from the Arkansas to the Cimarron led American traders and travelers to call the area the "Cimarron Desert". Mexican traders called it the "Jornada del Muerte
" (Journey of Death)."
While I was planning our route from the point where we deviate from the TAT to get down to Albuquerque, I noted that in the GPS database, the Santa Fe trail appears as a dotted line, as if it's a regular dirt road. Unfortunately, I coldn't find anything corresponding on GoogleEarth satellite images. A little digging revealed the historic nature of the Santa Fe trail, and that it doesn't really exist, except for visible ruts carved into the earth from years of covered wagons getting stuck in mud. (Actually visible on GoogleEarth if you increase the elevation topography amplitude, and tilt the viewing angle -- very cool)
I was excited to be in this part of the country. We were covering about 200-300 miles in a full day. Wagon trains were lucky to make 10.