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The story of New Santa Fe, Missouri, a gateway to the Santa Fe Trail

The town of New Santa Fe (or Little Santa Fe, as some call it) stood at the junction of the Santa Fe Trail and State Line Road, now southwest Kansas City. The little village had great historical significance in the development of western commerce in the 19th century.

Photo of New Santa Fe Cemetery

New Santa Fe was a little post village situated on the west line of Missouri, about midway in Washington Township. The village developed about the farm of John Bartleston, who erected a cabin in the forest along the Santa Fe Trail in 1833 and subsisted on hominy and potatoes. Within a few years, a community known as Little Santa Fe developed. Wagon caravans laden with merchandise for the Mexican and California trade paused here before pushing westward. In 1851, Little Santa Fe was incorporated as New Santa Fe. About this time the village's troubles began. Located on the line between a free and a slave State, it suffered from the Border War of 1855-60, the Civil War, and the depredations of the bands of outlaws who came after the war. Finally, the isolation of the village from the railroad reduced it to little more than an historic site. (1941 Missouri: A Guide to the "Show Me" State, Missouri State Highway Department)

Photo of Dabney Libscomb gravestone in New Santa Fe Cemetery Dabney Lipscomb and his wife, Elizabeth W. Lipscomb, "laid out" the town on October 5th, 1851.

"Being on the State line between a free and a slave State, it experienced some of the most remarkable events that have been known on a turbulent border: the Border Ruffian War of 1855-60, the awful commotions of the Civil War, and the bands of outlaws, murderers and robbers since the War of the Rebellion ceased have haunted this section to an unwanted degree. The country around about New Santa Fe was of unsurpassed loveliness and fertility." (History of Jackson County, p. 361)

Trail Remnants

The National Park Service certified the trail rut in New Santa Fe Cemetery as part of the officially mapped National Historic Trail System.

On April 11, 2000, this beautiful full color wayside exhibit depicting the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Historic Trails was dedicated through the efforts of the Historical Society in conjunction with the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Long Distance Trails Group Office, Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Kansas City, Missouri Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund.

Photo of Trail Remnants Interpretive Sign in New Santa Fe Cemetery

The Exhibit art, Trail Remnants, was commissioned with artist, Charles Goslin. Remains of the ruts made by heavy freight wagons are still visible in the midst of the cemetery at New Santa Fe.

The four original works are on display at the Avila University, Hooley-Bundschu Library, 11901 Wornall Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64145. They are titled:

Photo of map of New Santa Fe, MO

Breakdown on the Santa Fe Trail
The Bull Whacker and the Mule Skinner
Camping at New Santa Fe
Santa Fe Trail at New Santa Fe


Photo of Tour Stop 22 sign