Travelling Southwest to Las Vegas there is evidence of older transportation corridors that parallel Interstate 15 including the Old Spanish Trail. The Historic Spanish Trail, a 2,700 mile trading route, extended from New Mexico to California.
In 1829 Spanish merchant Antonio Armijo, led 60 men and 1100 mules from Santa Fe to the San Gabriel Mission in California. Traveling along trails used by Native Americans and fur trappers they followed streams in search for springs and meadows to nourish their livestock.
Pictured: Old Spanish Trail
At the San Gabriel Mission merchants traded blankets for horses and mules. California had abundance of horses and cattle, but no sheep for wool.
The Spanish Trail comprised many main trails, and numerous alternate routes. Trails began and ended depending upon the traveler’s beginning location and intended destination, always searching for, and plotting the location of water.
Following the Mexican American War of 1846-1848, wagon routes expanded commerce and westward pioneer migration. Providing access to foreign markets and goods at California ports, commerce increased between Santa Fe and Los Angeles.
Parallel to Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas you will see segments of US Highway 91 and the Los Angeles, San Pedro and Salt Lake Railroad. Not visible from the Interstate is the Arrowhead Trail, the Mormon Road and the Spanish Trail.
Pictured: Old Spanish Trail Marker
However, by making short diversions from Interstate 15 you will see evidence of the Spanish Trail. The Old Spanish Trail Association, Las Vegas Chapter, placed concrete markers along the original Spanish Trail at exits 64, 75, 88, 90, and 112. Interpretive panels, describing the commercial trading route are located at exits 64, 90 and 122.
Pictured: Clark County Spanish Trail Park
Residents and visitors to Clark County can visit the Old Spanish Trail Park in Las Vegas. Located at 8150 Tara Avenue, the park, established in 2008, includes several interpretation panels describing early history of Las Vegas Valley when this area was a major stop for water by traders traveling through the Southwest.
The Old Spanish Trail Association promotes public awareness of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail and its multicultural heritage by encouraging research, publication and partnering with governments and private organizations.
Learn more about the Old Spanish Trail Association at the Nevada Chapter website. OSTA chapters are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico Utah and United Kingdom. Join the Old Spanish Trail Association and receive free newsletter OSTA Spanish Traces.
Art Chesmore, and his company Las Vegas Private Tour Guide, designs, manages and guides personalized itineraries for itinerate travelers to Las Vegas, and throughout Southwest and Western United States. Follow Art on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.