A Turning Point in Santa Fe History

Merchants travelling along the Santa Fe Trail.

In 1821 the Santa Fe Trail, which began in Franklin, Missouri, opened up trade with the United States. This era through 1848 became known as the Mexican Period. That’s when New Mexico was under Mexican rule. The east-west Santa Fe Trail provided access to the U.S. Army, which enabled them to establish the American Occupation in 1846. In 1848, the peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago, came to fruition. The treaty gave the U.S. government all the land in the American Southwest and California. In 1850 New Mexico became a U.S. territory.

A Defining Moment for the Catholic Church

The following year the Vatican appointed Jean-Baptiste Lamy as bishop to Santa Fe. Lamy quickly went to work to establish the first archdiocese in the area and oversaw the building of the Romanesque St. Francis Cathedral, now known as the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. Today, the cathedral continues to be the defining landmark in downtown Santa Fe.

Battle of Glorieta

During the Civil War, 22 miles southeast of Santa Fe, Yankee and Confederate soldiers fought at the Battle of Glorieta. During that skirmish close to 200 Confederate soldiers lost their lives. The railroad came to Santa Fe in 1878 providing a new and fast mode of transportation for people from the east. Businessmen, politicians, physicians, writers, artists and other enterprising souls laid claim to the city and continue to shape the cultural landscape.

Statehood, the Depression & the Atomic Age

In 1912 New Mexico became the 47th state in the nation with Santa Fe as its state capitol. The Great Depression in 1929 and the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s also impacted Santa Fe. Government programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), brought relief. Help came not only to the citizens of Santa Fe, but to the thousands of people who passed through on their way to California in search of work. In 1943 during World War II the dawn of the Atomic age got its start in Santa Fe. The Manhattan Project opened an office on Palace Avenue as a check point for scientists and military personnel on their way up to “the Hill,” at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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