Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway Visions 2007

prepared by Wyvonne Phillips Graham- April 2007

 

Colorado Scenic Byways

Executive Summary

The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway-Mountain Branch has completed its incorporation as a 501(C3) 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 are currently in our fourth 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. The Byway Program is funded by the National Scenic Byways Program of the Federal Highway Administration. 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. Caravans of traders, often with four horses abreast, traveled the Mountain Branch. 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, stagecoach 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 was not. At least one and possibly two wagon trains of trade goods set out before him. Nevertheless, the race was on.

Board of Directors

President- Roberta Cordova, founder of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail
Vice President- 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.
Meghan Russell Harris is Executive Director of Trinidad Las Animas County Economic Development and acted as the fiscal sponsor of our organization before our 501C3 status.
Cathy Mullins- Membership and Committee Director
We have a good representation of the Trail Corridor consisting of well-qualified individuals that make up our Board of Directors and Executive Director.
Our organization has the vision of making our Scenic Byway recognized as one of Americas Byways and a great American Heritage highway instilling community pride, fellowship, and commerce. "The Santa Fe Trail Mountain Branch and Trail of Commerce"

Grants received:

National Scenic Byway Grants- Federal Highway Administration Seed Grant - $25,000 our match $7,500

The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway-Mountain Branch is one of Colorado's Scenic Byway Programs. It is funded by the America's Byways, 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.

Five Seed Grants used to implement the Corridor Management Plan, training, outreach, marketing, interpretation, organization and capacity building. 2003-2007.

National Scenic Byway Grants- $51,000 for interpretation, required match $10,200 begins soon!
Boggsville- Fabricate and install 7 NPS approved signs
Byway Visitors Center/Trinidad History Museum-Create One wall sign and portable visitors media station
Wagon tracks and DAR marker interpretation signs.
Day trip and tour publication for visitors with suggested itineraries & tours
Create and distribute Children's activity place mats.
El Moro Rest Area- Design, fabricate and install 2 signs. Relocate low watt radio message equipment to site.
El Pueblo Byway Visitors Center-Create 1 sign and light box.

Council of Governments - $3,000

Design for new brochures with fold out maps.

Colorado Tourism Office Grant - $15,000 for marketing

Visitor satisfaction surveys, and ways to measure success.
Brochure printing and distribution
Santa Fe Trail Association Symposium
Byway website
National, state and local marketing

Partnerships

Colorado Department Of Transportation (CDOT) Scenic Byways
Federal Highway Administration
National Scenic Byway Organization (NSBO)- America's Byways
Colorado Historical Society (CHS)
Trinidad History Museum (a Colorado Historical Society Property)
Colorado Preservation Inc. (CPI)
Trinidad Historical Society (THS)
Council of Governments (COG)
Trinidad Tourism Board (TTB)
Southeast Colorado Regional Tourism Board (SECRTG)
Colorado Tourism Office (CTO)
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) /Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW)
USDA United States Forest Service (USFS)
Comanche National Grasslands (CNG)
Pioneer Historical Society (PHS)
Boggsville Historic Site
United States Army USA
National Park Service (NPS) Long Distance Trails
Frontier Pathways Scenic & Historic Byway
Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo (HARP)
El Pueblo Living History Museum
Santa Fe Trail Association, Bents Fort Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

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

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.
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.
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.
Increase tourism's contribution to the economy by increasing visitors and the length of their stay.
Increase the number of sites visited.
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.

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 Stakeholders, both on and off the Byway. 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.

Projects in 2007 using our fourth seed funds

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 stakeholder 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. With funding we have published our Corridor Management Plan and Interpretive on our web site for stakeholder review and input.

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 marketing capabilities to accommodate their needs and provide Byway sustainability. Communities need to have a way to announce visitor information and we will continue to use creative ways to educate citizens and travelers about the history of the Santa Fe Trail.

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 educative areas for wildlife enthusiasts.

Increased efforts for funding needed improvements in preparation for heritage travelers.

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. The 2007 SFT Symposium is being held here in Trinidad Colorado September 27-30. We will seek opportunities for collaboration in the Trail's stewardship and assist in leveraging our resources for improvements, promotions and education of the Santa Fe Trail. SFTA Symposium 2007 has been an excellent opportunity for collaborative efforts on the Santa Fe Trail.

Southeast Colorado Regional Tourism Group received a Preserve America Grant for Heritage Tourism development. We will work our Preserve America Communities in their efforts to increase Heritage Travel on the Santa Fe Trail and develop new sites of historic importance that are visitor ready.

Colorado Preservation Inc. has identified the Santa Fe Trail and Southeast Colorado Heritage Region as one of Colorado's Most Endangered Places list. They have also submitted a nomination for National Trust's Most Endangered Places list. The plans of the US Army to expand Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site has been a controversy that our Byway is faced with. Our Scenic Byway will be impacted greatly as well as our heritage tourism development hindered. Stockholder meetings are frequent amongst the US Forest Service, US Army, County Commissioners, congressional 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. Stakeholders are pulling together 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 our leaders will hear the protests of sticklers, landowners, preservationists, and supporters throughout the Nation. Preserve America's Byways, they are the life line to our history!

Comanche National Grassland has offered us the opportunity to collaborate and assist in replacing deteriorated low profile signs at Timpas, Sierra Vista and Iron Springs. We will seek funds to try and complete their replacement and assist in enhancing these sites in preparation for the Symposium tours.

Objectives for 2007 and Beyond

Byway sustainability and public momentum
Continue interpretation and improvements on the Byway
Collaborate with stakeholders for stewardship of the Santa Fe Trail
Increase byway visibility, usage, partnerships, supporters and educative opportunities