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Old Spanish Trail: a Source Of Opportunity for County




The Spanish Trail traversed through Emery County long before this was Emery County. A new interest is emerging concerning the Spanish Trail and how it might benefit the county. At the February Historical Society Meeting the Spanish Trail was discussed . Col. Alva L. Matheson from Cedar City is somewhat of an expert in matters concerning the Spanish Trail. He also represents Utah at the National Trails Association.
“The old Spanish Trail is part of the national trail system and the people of Emery County need to be active in supporting and promoting this trail. In early June, thousands of people from around the nation are going to descend on Green River for a national trail convention. These visitors will be touring the portion of the Spanish Trail that passed through Utah. Everyone in this area needs to be aware of this activity.
“Also, on April 19, the Bureau of Land Management and the forest service will hold a scoping meeting in Green River to ask what the trail means to you. This meeting will gather input from the residents as to what you want the trail to look like. Do you want it managed for ATVs, horses, foot traffic, or full-sized vehicles. This is an important opportunity for the residents of this area to speak up about the future of the Spanish Trail in Emery County. This is a great chance for residents to have their say in what will happen to this trail.
“There is also an economical advantage concerning the Spanish Trail. Many people will visit the area to learn more about the trail and businesses in the area should be aware of the opportunities that are coming. Emery County has a wonderful chance to capitalize on this opportunity to make the Spanish Trail a big part of your heritage,” said Col. Matheson.
Matheson went on to tell the history of the Spanish Trail. “This was a very lucrative trade route and nearly all traffic on the trail was without wheels. Mules were taken from the West Coast to Santa Fe and woolens were taken from Santa Fe to Los Angeles along the Spanish Trail. The slave traders also used this trail to transport slaves both directions across the area.
“The trail was too rugged in many places to accommodate wagons, so pack trains were used. Many of the pack trains were 250 pack animals long. That meant some of the pack trains were more than a mile long. This trail was more than a trail, it was a corridor for travel from New Mexico to California. Many of the herds of horses taken across this trail for selling on the other end had as many as 3,000 animals.
“Manufactured goods were scarce in California, and anything made of metal, such as pots, pans, tools, and the like were brought over this trail into Los Angeles. Within a year of the discovery of gold in California, use of the trail had almost completely stopped.
“Nothing compares with the Spanish Trail for mystique, history, intrigue, opportunity, and heritage. The people of Emery County must learn to promote and save this trail. You need to preserve the concept of the Spanish Trail,” said Col. Matheson.
Also at the meeting of the Emery County Historical Society, the new officers for 2006-2007 were installed. President Mike Williams, President elect Joyce Staley, Secretary Evelyn Huntsman, and Treasurer Dixie Swasey were sworn into their offices by Sylvia Nelson, and thus the torch was passed.
Williams said, “It is truly an honor and privilege to serve as president of the Emery County Historical Society for the next two years. We want this to be your historical society, and if you have a subject you would like to have presented, please let us know.” The Emery County Historical Society meets once a month to learn more about the history of the area and preserve the heritage of Emery County. The next meeting will be March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the San Rafael.

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