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Santa Fe Trail 200th Anniversary Celebration
Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail took place recently in La Junta, CO. We lived in La Junta in the 1970’s, where I worked as a feature reporter for the Arkansas Valley Journal. At the time, a wooden historical sign on Route 350 to Trinidad, CO stated: “This highway follows the Santa Fe Trail used extensively from 1822 by early pioneers who opened the way from Missouri to Santa Fe … nearby are visible the ruts cut by heavy ox drawn wagon trains.” The ruts were still visible in the hard, dry soil. During a return trip on the same route in 2012, I could no longer find the sign, nor evidence of the ruts.
Built in 1821, Bent’s Fort was an important trading post on the Santa Fe Trail. After its reconstruction, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site opened to the public in 1975. By then, we had moved on. I was not familiar with the museum as shown with a map on a vintage postcard. However, during a 1991 daytrip, Bent’s Old Fort was an outstanding living history experience, well worth the visit.
Back to the postcard. In 1949, a man named Bob apparently had enough time to disembark from a train at the La Junta station, and purchase this postcard. On the back side, he addressed a scribbled note to Lois in Kansas. “40 min. late arriving here. Some work done on diner. More delay. Breakfast in Dodge City. Bob” The August 1949 Albuquerque postmark indicates the card was sent later, from New Mexico.
Threads of Time
Museums provide many opportunities to study and learn from the past. At the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado, history buffs can enjoy the craftsmanship of quilters, past and present, and appreciate their skills applied to historical materials and designs. Backgrounds for this web site contain images of vintage fabric from the museum.
A few years ago, a newspaper notice caught my attention. The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum was having a garage sale, to clear out a backlog of fabric and supplies. On the appointed day, I made a beeline to Golden, a mountain town in the Denver foothills, and was not disappointed. Various fabric ends from bolts of cotton with vintage calico designs were available for purchase. They jumped into my basket, and have come in handy for many projects since.
Fabric is also a handy writing metaphor for history. Threads in the cloth represent stories, people and timelines. Elements combine and blend to create a greater historical fabric of events and characters who interacted, reflecting usage, tastes and culture from long ago.
When I recently came across the remainder of the vintage fabric, the enchanting designs once again took me back in time. They brought to mind wallpaper of the late 1800s in the American West, and precious cloth purchased by pioneers for handmade clothing, dresses, aprons, shirts, blouses, bonnets, and curtains. Consider these common objects and images as they evoke thoughts and visions from the past.
Joyce B. Lohse – Copyright 2021