For decades in the early 19th century, the famous Santa Fe Trail was an economic and cultural conduit linking the frontier settlements of Missouri with what was then northern Mexico.
Author Mary Collins Barile looks at the colorful history of the trail and its importance to the Kansas City region in Missouri, Mexico, and the Santa Fe Trail on Sunday, May 5, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
As her talk coincides with the observance of Cinco de Mayo, Barile emphasizes the largely unrecognized role of Mexican traders in the trail's development and success.
Opened by Spaniards at the end of the 18th century and afterwards used largely by American traders, the Santa Fe Trail served as a vital commercial and military highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. It was used by U.S. military forces to invade New Mexico during the Mexican-American War of 1846.
The eastern end of the trail was in the central Missouri town of Franklin on the north bank of the Missouri River. It extended west to Fort Osage and Independence, through present-day Olathe, Kansas, then stretched across Kansas to cut through the southeast corner of what is now Colorado before veering south into New Mexico.
Barile lives in Boonville, Missouri, which figures in the Santa Fe Trail story, and is the associate director of the Office of Grant Writing and Publications at the University of Missouri. Among her books are The Santa Fe Trail in Missouri and Forgotten Tales of Missouri.
Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.
This presentation is part of the Missouri Valley Sundays, a program of the Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Central Library. The series is made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.