The Old Spanish Trail was primarily a horse and burro pack route linking Santa Fe to Los Angeles. The trail evolved from a network of Indian and Hispanic trade thoroughfares criss-crossing the modern states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California.
Forged by Hispanic traders in 1829 as a trade corridor, the Old Spanish Trail was the first successful Euro-American effort to connect the Mexican frontier provinces of New Mexico and California. The overland trail linked the burgeoning ranch economy of the Pacific communities to the pastoral villages of the intermountain southwest. Ultimately, the Old Spanish Trail became a crucial part of the commercial triangle comprising the Santa Fe Trail in the east and Mexico’s Camino real in the south.
Although the trail was neither "Spanish" nor "old" when western pathfinder, John C. Frèmont, coined the term in his now famous report of 1845, Anglo-Americans popularized the name. To Hispanos the trail was known variously as "el Camino de Nuevo Mexico" or "el Camino de California."
After being exhibited at the Center, the exhibition traveled to the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico and to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado.