Marty Hackett
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Trinidad holds first planning meeting for 2021 Santa Fe Trail Bicentennial celebration

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On Monday, Feb. 3 numerous community leaders and organization representatives gathered together at the Bloom Mansion at the Trinidad History Museum to discuss possible plans for the anniversary marking 200 years since the start of the historic Santa Fe Trail in 2021.

In 1821, William Becknell, a Missouri salt maker, in debt and in danger of going to jail, began in Franklin, Missouri with five other men and two and a half months later arrived in Santa Fe.

After speaking with the New Mexico Governor Facundo Melgare, Becknell was welcomed and asked to return to Missouri to bring more goods into New Mexico. This spurred a big push over the next 24 years of trade of goods and ideas between the two regions and beyond creating what is now known as the Santa Fe Trail.

Trinidad Welcome Center Manager and Tourism Event Coordinator Marty Hackett, who organized the meeting, welcomed everyone and expressed this would be an event to remember.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us to celebrate something like this,” said Hackett. “When I started seeing that other communities from Missouri to New Mexico were starting to make plans for this 2021 celebration, I said we’ve got to do something since we’re right on the Santa Fe Trail.”

After the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (A.T.&SF) Railroad broke through Raton Pass and into Santa Fe, NM in 1880, long distance freighting over the plains had mostly come to an end, replaced by the larger carrying capacity of railcars. At Monday’s meeting, several individuals expressed a desire to see Amtrak or BNSF bring in old passenger cars or work with the communities along the trail to create special tours during the time of the celebration.

In regards to Trinidad, city economic development coordinator Wally Wallace brought up the importance Fishers Peak held in the trail’s history.

“All the people that crossed the Santa Fe Trail over the mountain branch saw that mountain and were making their way towards that mountain and that’s the highest point of the entire Santa Fe Trail,” said Wallace. “It was such a significant part of their journey and I think it’s really great that we are turning it into a state park and opening it to the public around the exact same time that we’re celebrating this anniversary. This is an awesome chance for us to put the town as well as our newest state park on display for the people that come for this celebration.”

Several members from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were also in attendance. DAR began contributing to the historic preservation of the trail when they started placing stone monuments marking the route in 1906. There are currently about 86 monuments placed along the trail.

DAR members in attendance stated they would like to line up a rededication of the Kit Carson Monument, which was also originally placed by DAR members, with the Santa Fe Trail celebration in 2021.

A.R. Mitchell Museum Executive Director Allyson Sheumaker stated the museum would be happy to host events for the celebration as well as future planning meetings should bigger space be needed.

Also in attendance were students from the Trinidad area as part of the new Trinidad Community Foundation program, JrCOMM. This program, in partnership with The Youth Club of Trinidad, will increase youth involvement in community events and several of the youth offered ideas for the celebration. The Chronicle-News will be providing more information on this group in an upcoming issue.

Other ideas brought up at the meeting included involvement from SCRT and the Trinidad Music Association and Community Chorale to provide reenactments, possibly a western themed production, and western music. TSJC said they might be able to offer special classes through their Heritage School around the time of the event.

Covered wagons and campfire gatherings along the trail were also mentioned as possible special events of the celebration. The word “authentic” was used several times, as everyone was in agreement that the bicentennial celebration needed to capture the true spirit of route whether on the trail or the rail.

Another major component of the meeting was voicing the importance of trying to plan events in a way that didn’t interfere with what other areas, locally and regionally, were doing so that people could go from place to place and enjoy numerous events or locations.

“I believe this is a great opportunity for us to band together with other communities,” said Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico, “not only this time but also other times as well to work together in different ways.”

For more information regarding this event or to offer any other ideas, contact Marty Hackett at marty.hackett@trinidad.co.gov.

Local community members pack Bloom Mansion, ready to plan events

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