TRAIL TO SANTA FE - Song Page
© words & music by Annie Wilson
from CD Sky & Water, Wind & Grass
Album Note: This song takes us on the epic trading trail which crossed the Flint Hills from 1821 to 1866. I am thankful for the careful
research and kind help of Steve and Glenda Schmidt, who own Marion County land with real Santa Fe Trail ruts going across it.
"Trail to Santa Fe" was named the "Official Song of the Santa Fe Trail Association."
To purchase on CD or download, go to STORE.
This special music video with historical images was made by Dave Kendall of Prairie Hollow Productions.
These ruts you see before you
where the land is sunk and bowed,
Are remnants of the pathway
to Nuevo Mexico.
Near sixty years the wagon trains
passed along this way,
As wealth and power moved along
this trail to Santa Fe
Across the wide Missouri
back in eighteen twenty-one,
This “commerce of the prairies”
had only just begun.
They traveled west with cloth and shoes,
mirrors, buttons, beads;
Returned with gold and silver
and donkeys for the East.
No this was not a one-way trail
for emigrants bound west;
These travelers were merchants
seeking markets that were best.
They wagered fortunes, bet their lives
against the desert sun,
Going back and forth to Santa Fe
and past the Cimarron.
Cross-the rolling wide “green ocean,”
Kansas prairies fed them well.
A sea of grass without a tree
as many diaries tell
They camped along at water holes
a day’s walk in between
And passed by herds of buffalo
the likes they’d never seen
Nine hundred miles they traveled far
beyond the bluestem grass,
Past sandy plain, blue desert sky,
and rugged mountain pass,
To that valley of adobe homes
and Mission San Miguel,
The Plaza, and Palacio, and
Santa Fe’s sweet bells.
When war broke out with Mexico,
the Army filled the trail
With goods for all its western forts
and bags of precious mail.
Each day you’d hear the hoof-beats
of the oxen and the mules,
The creak of wood and leather as
they’d lift their iron shoes.
Comanche, Kaw, and Kiowa,
the Cheyenne, and Osage
In sadness watched as thousands rode
this trail they first had made.
Every day more people came
like sands upon the shore
The buffalo were hunted out
and the-Indians grew poor
But the lifeblood of this trading trail
would soon no longer flow.
Steel rails had reached Pueblo lands
within New Mexico.
In eighteen eighty Santa Fe’s
first railroad cars came through;
So-the oxen and the mule trains
on this trail were finished, too.
Today the story lies between
these ruts of hooves and wheels,
Of lives and fortunes gained and lost
in ventures mercantile.
That will to trade and wander
to places far away
Led all those souls to follow
the trail to Santa Fe.