Friday, September 19 – Larned, KS

We have returned to Larned to attend the Santa Fe Trail Association’s two day “Rondezvous” highlighting how freighting along the Santa Fe Trail evolved. For $25 per person, it’s more than worth the admission.

Today’s sessions were:

1 – Introduction to and overview of freighting on the Santa Fe Trail (SFT). Harry Meyers gave a rousing synoptic overview of SFT freighting, the risks involved, the profits to be made and the cultural changes that occurred during the roughly fifty years of its’ pre-railroad life.

2 – Early freighting (1821-1845) along the SFT. Michael Olsen stressed that commerce along the SFT was an early form of globalization. Cotton was grown in the south, shipped to England, manufactured into cloth which was shipped back to America, up the Missouri River, thence to Santa Fe and points south along various Mexican routes. Most were carried by entrepreneurs who took considerable risk to their lives to make a tidy profit.

3 – Army Freighting During the Mexican War (1846-48). Leo Oliva reviewed the Army’s efforts to save money by hauling its’ own equipment and food during the Mexican War. Despite tremendous improvements in procurement processes by the Quartermaster General’s department, the government just can’t do a job that the private sector can accomplish cheaper, better, faster. The Mexican War proved new supply tactics worked and that led to improved methods used during the Civil War.

4 – Hispano Culture and Transportation. Susan Boyle gave us some insights into the cultural changes wrought by the American conquest of Santa Fe and how that affected all aspects of life. She stressed that there are LOTS of documents undiscovered that will yield significant insights into SFT history, particularly the economic and financial relationships between speculative freighters, banks and producers of goods being shipped. (I think this was one of my favorite sessions)

The information density exceeded that of a neutron stars’ surface. My head hurts. I’ll transcribe my notes later. Someday. Not tonight.

Comments are closed.