Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway Visions 2006

prepared by Wyvonne Phillips- October 2006

 


Executive Summary

The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway-Mountain Branch has completed it's incorporation as a 501(C)(3) nonprofit. This status will allow us to seek new funding sources and leverage our resources. We will preserve, protect and promote the corridor of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch. We recently completed our third seed grant and will continue to seek a way for financial sustainability for the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway in the future.

Organization Description

The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway-Mountain Branch is one of Colorado's Scenic Byway Programs. It is funded by the National Scenic Byways Program of the FHWA. Funds are distributed through a competitive grants process and are administered by CDOT State Scenic Byway Program. This grant is renewable for up to five years and it is our intention to become self sustaining by the year 2009. Our public access point is the Colorado Historical Society property of "Trinidad History Museum" Scenic Byway Visitors Center, 312 East Main Street, Trinidad, CO.

Historical Background

Roberta Cordova the founder of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway, the Scenic Byway Committee, Byway Stake holders and Partners, City Governments and prestigious members of our Byway Communities worked for many years to develop our Scenic Byway. In 1992 Governor Roy Romer and the Colorado Department of Transportation designated the Mountain Branch as a Colorado State Scenic Byway. We received National Scenic Byways Program designation in 1998 by the FHWA. The 184 mile Scenic Byway Corridor was based on Colorado portion of the Santa Fe Trail and is dubbed the Trail of Merchants as this is the route which opened trade between the US and Mexico.

The Santa Fe Trail served as a trade route between Missouri and the Mexican frontiers from 1821 to 1880. The Mountain Branch was traveled by caravans of traders, often with four horses abreast. Although the Mountain Branch was 100 miles longer than the Cimarron Route, and the climb over Raton Pass was difficult, the Mountain Route was preferred since water was more accessible and it was less vulnerable to Indian attacks. In 1987 the Santa Fe Trail was designated by Congress as a National Historic Trail. Heritage travelers visit today to discover the magic and retrace authentic steps taken by merchants and traders on the way to Santa Fe. Recreate life along the Trail by visiting historic trading posts like Bent's Old Fort and Boggsville; stage coach ruins, visible wagon ruts, graves, ruins of Trail-era ranches and statues and monuments commemorating famous characters of the west.

"The Commerce of the Prairies" developed from a trickle of traders with pack mules to dozens upon dozens of wagon trains, hundreds of prairie schooners, laden with trade goods pulled by groaning oxen, in an ever increasing stream between Missouri and Santa Fe. It started in a small way - a few caravans of mules from Santa Fe, heavily laden with hides and tallow. In the very year of the Adams-Onis Treaty and the Independence of Mexico, 1821, Missouri Indian trader William Becknell heard that Santa Fe was open to trade from the U.S. He hurried West -- right along our Byway -- to be the first to reach that fabled (and trade-hungry) Royal City. After realizing a neat little 5000% profit, he hastened back to Missouri so he could be the first out the following Spring. He wasn't. At least one and possibly two wagon trains of trade goods set out before him. But the race was on.

Board of Directors

President- Roberta Cordova, founder of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail
Vice President- Michelle Stevens, Heritage Director and Archaeologist for US Forest Service, Comanche & Cimarron National Grasslands, USDA.
Treasurer- Barbara McKnight one of the original founders of the Scenic Byway Steering committee, and director of tours to Historic sites for Branson Hiking Club in our region. Priscilla Opper, Founding Board Treasurer, Trinidad History Museum docent director.
We have a good representation of the Trail Corridor consisting of well-qualified individuals which make up our Board of Directors and Executive Director.
Our organization has the vision of making our Scenic Byway recognized as one of America's great American Heritage highways instilling community pride, fellowship, and commerce.

Grants received:

The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway-Mountain Branch is one of Colorado's Scenic Byway Programs. It is funded by the National Scenic Byways Program of the FHWA. Funds are distributed through a competitive grants process and are administered by CDOT State Scenic Byway Program. Our seed grant is renewable for up to five years and it is our intention to become self sustaining by the years 2009-2010.
Four Seed Grants - for $25,000 used to implement the Corridor Management Plan, training, outreach, marketing, interpretation, organization and capacity building. 2003-2007.
Santa Fe Trail Association Symposium - Trinidad Tourism Board - $500 for attendance to SFTA Symposium in McPhearson Kansas for research for Symposium 2007 to be held in Trinidad.
Watchable Wildlife areas - USDA Division of Wildlife - $9,600 for seven interpretive signs at five locations.
Brochure of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch. Seed funds were used for the development and printing of our first brochure in 2004. $1,500 in funding was received from Council Of Governments to assist with the development of new Byway brochures in 2006. The outer cover of the brochure has been designed. We will seek further funding to create a fold out map to add to this piece. Total project cost will be $8,000.
Byway Web site was created by the Byway Director from a NSBO grant for $3,600 in 2003 and has been developed and maintained with seed funds. We are requesting additional funds for updating and incorporating our plans for sustainability on the Byway Website and to give it a professional technology makeover.
One more seed grant will be applied for in 2007 to complete our goal for Byway Sustainability. If granted, we anticipate access to these funds in 2008 or 2009 depending on Federal funding availability.

Partnerships

Colorado Department Of Transportation
National Scenic Byway Organization
Trinidad Historical Society
Trinidad History Museum (a Colorado Historic Property)
USDA
USFS
NPS
Colorado Division of Wildlife
Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway
Santa Fe Trail Association

Historical Background

Roberta Cordova the founder of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway, the Scenic Byway Committee, Byway Stake holders and Partners, City Governments and prestigious members of our Byway Communities worked for many years to develop our Scenic Byway. In 1992 Governor Roy Romer and the Colorado Department of Transportation designated the Mountain Branch as a Colorado State Scenic Byway. We received National Scenic Byways Program designation in 1998 by the FHWA.

Vision

1. Increase recognition and appreciation of the multi-cultural heritage in communities within the corridor of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch.
Increase information availability about travel in both directions along the Trail's historic routes and the ties it created between the vastly different cultures and races.
Preserve the pioneer spirit among the region's population.
Enhance awareness of the Trail's history among persons moving into the region.
Promote Trail-related activities among all ages and families and to use connections provided by the Trail to improve inter-community relations.
2. Preserve historic sites and resources for future generations.
Achieve a balance between preservation and development.
Increase public knowledge about significant historic resources along the Trail.
Encourage preservation and protection of sites on public and private lands.
3. Enhance the visitor experience by upgrading and improving developed sites and facilities and by developing additional sites which are not now and do not have visitor services.
Improve the quality of visits.
4. Increase tourism's contribution to the economy by increasing visitors and the length of their stay.
Increase the number of sites visited.
5. Support Trail-related activities throughout the corridor of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch.
Consistently use a unified Trail-related theme and identity.

2005-2006 In Review

Our Executive Director and Byway Board attended public meetings and organizational meetings throughout the Byway region to create new partnerships for the stewardship of the Santa Fe Trail. Meetings were held with Trinidad Historical Society and other Byway Historical Societies, Colorado Preservation Inc., Historic Arkansas Riverwalk Project, Frontier Scenic Byways, Byway County and City Officials, US Forest Service, National Park Service, Santa Fe Trail Association and many other Scenic Byway Stake holders. Some of the issues addressed have been byway sustainability, interpretation, signage projects, visitor readiness, heritage tourism, agri-tourism, land stewardship, economic recovery from drought and industry closures and preservation of historic Santa Fe Trail Sites including Picketwire Canyonlands Dinosaur Tracksite, Historic Wine Glass Rourke Ranch and the stage coach stops of Timpas, Iron Springs, and Sierra Vista.

Projects

Our Web Site www.santafetrailscenicandhistoricbyway.org contains everything you need to know about Colorado's Santa Fe Trail S&H Byway. We receive an average of 3,000 visitors a month since it's debut in May 2003. Internet travel planning is encouraged through our virtual tours of historic sites on the Santa Fe Trail. Our web site is directly linked to Colorado Scenic Byway's and America's Byways web sites. Funding is needed to keep it updated and disperse stake holder information. As the popularity of the Santa Fe Trail increases the demand for visitor information increases. The web is an affordable way to meet traveler needs and convey our mission. The web site will be the anchor for our marketing efforts and ways to track our success. Byway incentives such as tour packages, freebies and discounts from merchant program will be given and tracked through visitor sites reporting who and where our marketing services are being used.

An Interpretive CD of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway-Mountain Branch, " Listening For the Sound Of Wheels" A living History of the Mountain Branch. Excerpts from this CD will be used as a sound track for our auto tour route broadcasts. With further communities realizing a need for inclusion in this program, we seek funding to expand our broadcasting capabilities to accommodate their needs and provide Byway sustainability through the use of logo grams. Communities will have way to announce visitor information and local sponsors will pay for the announcements.

Four new Watchable wildlife signs were completed for our Gateway City Colorado Welcome Centers of Trinidad and Lamar. This project was funded by the US Division of Wildlife in an effort to increase wildlife's contribution to our economy and provide visitor ready areas for wildlife enthusiasts.

Byway Activities

Santa Fe Trail Days Activities in Trinidad included a new Byway Promotions Booth, with story boards about the sites of attractions on the Santa Fe Trail and a Wild West Shootout Booth.
We conducted a Scenic Byway assessment in 2005 with Southeast Colorado Tourism Group which assisted in the development of our Business Plan and byway improvements.
We completed our 501 C 3 Designation and are now a non-profit organization with a recruitment of business entities both from the profit and non-profit sector.

Trends and Opportunities

The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch has an opportunity to join in the unification of the entire Santa Fe Trail. Multi state cooperation with Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri, are planned as these are the states through which the Santa Fe Trail passes. We will seek opportunities for multi state grants and assist in leveraging our resources throughout the Santa Fe Trail for improvements, promotions and education of the Santa Fe Trail.

The Byway has joined forces with Frontier Pathways to organize a Bike with Pike Century Ride from John Martin Reservoir to Pueblo River Walk. This event has potential of becoming an annual event.

Southeast Colorado Regional Tourism Group received a Preserve America Grant for $130,000 and a Department of Local Affairs grant for a total of combined funding of $260,000 for Heritage Tourism development. We will work with this group in their efforts to increase Heritage Travel on the Santa Fe Trail and to develop new sites of heritage importance which are visitor ready.

The intention of the US Army to expand Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site has been a controversy which our Byway is faced with. Our Scenic Byway will be impacted greatly as well as our heritage tourism development hindered. Stake holder meetings are frequent amongst the US Forest Service, US Army, County Commissioners, elected congressmen and representatives of our region. Heritage tourism, public lands and historic treasures, farming, gas drilling, ranching, tax base, fragile grassland ecosystems, and community survival will all be greatly impacted. One positive outcome of this land grab by the US Army has been an enormous amount of bonding amongst stake holders for a common cause to save our historic treasures and share in the stewardship of the land on and near the Santa Fe Trail. We are hopeful that the protests of preservationists, elected officials land owners and stake holders will be heard by our Federal Government and the destruction and loss of historic sites will not take place.

Objectives for 2006 and Beyond

Partnerships for the below listed projects:
1. Planning document for the protection and preservation of our DAR markers and the wagon track sites along the byway. Many are going unnoticed and are in danger of damage from mowers. These remote sites need to be brought to the forefront of our heritage protection plans along our Byway.
2. Business plan for the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch for byway sustainability beyond seed funds.
3. Incorporate a merchants program into our Byway Marketing program. Merchants would be offered marketing opportunities on our web site, touring guide and brochures.
4. Auto Tour Radio Broadcast update to include traveler services and expand transmitter locations. This program will become one of our major contributors to Byway sustainability.
5. Create a new Byway brochure for printing and distribution. When complete incorporate add sales for additional printings.
6. Byway website makeover to create an informative, user friendly site which incorporates state of the art technology and marketing techniques.
7. Complete the below funding projects when funding becomes available from FHWA.
Pueblo Scenic Byway Visitors Center Santa Fe Trail enhancements and interpretive sign.
Boggsville Historic Site interpretive signs for their trail.
Trinidad History Museum interpretive Byway sign, media center and Byways office.
El Moro Rest Area radio broadcast and interpretive signs.
Santa Fe Trail Wagon Rut and Trail marker interpretation.
Create a Santa Fe Trail Mountain Branch day trip and tour guide book.
A children's restaurant placemat for to educate traveling and local youths about the Santa Fe Trail.
Expand our auto tour broadcast to include Southeast Colorado's six county entity tourism group.
8. Seek out ways to measure our successes in marketing.
Work with chambers and visitor sites offering incentives through promotions. Visitors can stop by and pick up an item, a discount, a freebie or any number of incentives to track our success.