The “Armijo Route” of the Old Spanish Trail

 In 1829, Antonio Armijo left Abiquiu for Los Angeles. He got there in three months. The trip back took one and a half months. Despite the extraordinary nature of his undertaking, his journal of the experience is brief––a mere report to the Mexican government outlining the trail. 

This journal’s businesslike format underscores the economic purpose for his journey. Only eight years prior, in 1821, Mexico had achieved independence from Spain, and merchants from Mexico and the United States established the Santa Fe Trail which began circulating economic stimulus throughout Mexico’s contiguous territories.

However, resource-rich California was left out because there was no direct overland route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Armijo’s journey was essentially an infrastructure project with the purpose of consolidating Mexico’s national economy. And it was a success, establishing what is now known as the “Old Spanish Trail.” 

This trail received heavy use for 19 years, sustaining a lucrative trade between all the nations along its length. But with the outbreak of the Mexican American War in 1846, the Old Spanish Trail became obsolete.