Rio Grande County Museum to celebrate 20th anniversary of Old Spanish Trail designation

DEL NORTE — In honor of the 20th anniversary of the historical designation of the Old Spanish Trail, the Rio Grande County Museum will be hosting a celebration on May 20. For the event, the museum will host several Old Spanish Trail Association leaders, local historians, and presenters and local authors who will be available for book signings presentations, and more.

On Dec. 4, 2022, the Old Spanish Trail celebrated 20 years of honoring one of the oldest known trail systems throughout the country and the historical designation of the trail by acts from Congress in 2002.

According to the association, “The Old Spanish Trail has been called the most arduous and difficult trail in the United States. With Native American historical roots, the trail was used by the adventurous and opportunists bringing textiles from Santa Fe to trade for mules and horses in Los Angeles beginning in the early 1800s. Spanning more than 2,700 miles, parts of the trail were used by fur trappers and later by railroad and military surveyors."

The Old Spanish Trail Association, its members, friends, and partners, are dedicated to protecting, interpreting, and promoting the Old Spanish National Historic Trail and related historic routes.

The Old Spanish National Historic Trail was established by Congress in 2002. It has often been referred to as the most arduous, difficult trail in the United States. Its designated routes cover six states and some 2,700 miles, traversing mountains, deserts, rivers, and coastal valleys. It was historically used by curious and brave, enterprising, and sometimes nefarious men, forging trade routes between the Mexican cities of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. New Mexican woolen goods were traded for California mules and horses, but the trade also included furs, hides, and even Captives.

The Rio Grande County Museum will begin the day with Old Spanish Trail Association Executive Director Lynn Brittner, who will speak on behalf of the association, their work, and some of the projects they have completed in the last 20 years. In addition to Brittner, other presentations, and book signings will include local retired Forest Service Archeologist Ken Frye, local historians Frank White, Loretta Mitson, Suzanne Off, and Devon Pena, the new owner of the R&R Market in San Luis.

The day will also feature the museum’s grand re-opening for the 2023 season.