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Spanish Explorers

Antonio Armijo


Pioneered trade along the Old Spanish Trail

There was money to be made in transporting New Mexico serapes and other woolen goods to Los Angeles, and in wrangling California-bred horses and mules back to Santa Fe. But a viable overland route across the remote deserts and mountains of Mexico’s far northern frontier had to be found.

It took the vision and courage of Mexican trader Antonio Armijo to lead the first commercial caravan from Abiquiú, New Mexico, to Los Angeles late in 1829. Over the next 20 years, Mexican and American traders continued to ply variants of the route that Armijo pioneered, frequently trading with Indian tribes along the way. And it was from a combination of the indigenous footpaths, early trade and exploration routes, and horse and mule routes that a trail network known collectively as the Old Spanish Trail evolved.

Santa Fe emerged as the hub of the overland continental trade network linking Mexico and United States markets—a network that included not only the Old Spanish Trail, but also the Santa Fe Trail and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. After the United States took control of the Southwest in 1848 other routes to California emerged, and use of the Old Spanish Trail sharply declined.

Source - NPS
Title: Antonio Armijo: A Pioneer of the Southwest


Antonio Armijo was an influential figure in the early 19th century, whose expeditions and trade routes played a crucial role in shaping the Southwest region of the United States. Born in 1804 and passing away in 1850, Armijo's life was dedicated to exploration and commerce, leaving a lasting impact on the development of the American Southwest.

Early Life and Background:

Antonio Armijo was born in 1804 in New Mexico, which was then a part of the Spanish Empire. Growing up in a region filled with rich natural resources and cultural diversity, Armijo developed a deep appreciation for the land and its potential.

Expeditions and Trade Routes:

In the early 1820s, Armijo began his career as a trader, venturing into uncharted territories to establish trade routes between New Mexico and California. His first successful expedition took place in 1829, when he led a caravan from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, opening up a new path known as the Old Spanish Trail.

Armijo's expeditions were not without challenges. The harsh terrain, extreme weather conditions, and encounters with Native American tribes made his journeys perilous. However, his determination and leadership skills allowed him to navigate these obstacles and establish crucial trade connections, which proved vital for the economic growth of the Southwest.

Impact and Legacy:

Armijo's expeditions and trade routes had a profound impact on the development of the Southwest region. By facilitating the exchange of goods and ideas between New Mexico and California, he played a significant role in both regions' economic and cultural growth. The trade routes he established became vital corridors for commerce, fostering the expansion of settlements and the exploration of new territories.

Furthermore, Armijo's expeditions opened up opportunities for future explorers and pioneers. His efforts paved the way for the expansion of the American West, encouraging other traders, settlers, and adventurers to follow in his footsteps.


Antonio Armijo's contributions to the exploration and trade in the Southwest cannot be overstated. His expeditions and trade routes laid the foundation for the economic and cultural development of the region, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to shape the Southwest to this day. Armijo's pioneering spirit and determination serve as an inspiration for generations to come, reminding us of the importance of exploration and the pursuit of new frontiers.

Also see:

Old Spanish Trail
Mexican trader Antonio Armijo led the first commercial caravan from Abiquiú, New Mexico, to Los Angeles late in 1829. Over the next 20 years, Mexican and ...

Chronology of expeditions between New Mexico and California
...November 6 -- Antonio Armijo and 60 men leave from Abiquiú, New Mexico, for California and arrive there ... April 25 -- Antonio Armijo returns to New Mexico. ...

History of the Cajon Pass
Soon after Smith, came Antonio Armijo with his mule train blazing what was to become the Old Spanish Trail bringing commerce between Los Angeles and ...

Las Vegas, NV
1829 - Antonio Armijo arrives after his scout Rafael Riviera 1844 - John C. Fremont Arrives 1855 - Mormons arrive in Las Vegas and establish fort 1855 - First ...

Amargosa River
In 1829 the explorer Antonio Armijo stopped here on his inauguration trip of the Spanish Trail. Captain John Fremont and Kit Carson probably stopped here in ...

These Dauntless Trappers
On the heels of these beaver men came Antonio Armijo who led the first New Mexican caravan over the {mis-named spelling} Old Spanish Trail in 1829-30. ...

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