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The Old Spanish Trail

From Taos County Historical Society


Over thousands of years, First Nations in the Southwest traveled extensively throughout the region, stitching far-flung communities together with their vast, inter-coastal trade routes. These routes carried valuable trade items and were encapsulated in Journey Songs that could be memorized and transferred to other would-be travelers. When Spanish explorers arrived in North America, they engaged these American Indian traders as scouts.


The Taos County Historical Society announces its 2 pm Sept. 3 program, The Old Spanish Trail by Celinda Reynolds Kaelin in the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Boardroom, 118 Cruz Alta Rd. in Taos. Admission is free for members of the Taos County Historical Society and a suggested donation of $5 for non-members.


In 1779, Governor Juan Bautista de Anza subjugated the Comanche and gained their commitment to peace. Once the Comanche threat was removed, New Mexico became a center for trade in the 1800s. In 1821, the Santa Fe Trail opened from Missouri to Santa Fe, and in 1829, the Old Spanish Trail linked northern New Mexico to California. Both trails followed ancient Native American trade routes.
In 1830, Taos’ La Hacienda de los Martinez launched the first successful round-trip to California, when William Wolfskill and George Yount outfitted their 20 men at the Hacienda for their journey. This mixture of Spanish, Native, and American cultures will be celebrated at Martinez Hacienda at the annual Trade Fair on Sept. 25-26.


Ethnohistorian, Celinda Reynolds Kaelin, will take members and guests of Taos County Historical Society through the history of the North Branch, Old Spanish National Historic Trail (OSNHT) in an illustrated talk. Kaelin is the former New Mexico Director for OSNHT. She will examine the role of Taos as a center for this trade, and the key role that the Spanish Churro sheep and northern New Mexico weavers played.
Kaelin, granddaughter of New Mexico pioneer John Allen Reynolds, is a poet, philosopher, ethnographer, and historian. Her great grandfather was the Cherokee Chief Red Bird. Celinda resides in Taos with her husband Harold. They have three children; Kelly Fogarty, Melinda Slawson and Jessica Gallop-Butler; eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.


Kaelin is a member of Western Writers of America and is a 2019 Literary Judge for their Spur Awards. She is also a member of Women Writing the West and served as president of the Pikes Peak Historical Society for over 26 years. After she took an early retirement from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1989, Kaelin began writing full time. She received her B.A. in Business Administration from the College of Santa Fe and has the equivalent of a master’s degree in business earned from over 400 hours of post-graduate studies. She serves as an adjunct professor at Colorado College.


Kaelin is the author of six books, including Pikes Peak Backcountry, [Caxton Press, 1999], American Indians of the Pikes Peak Region [Arcadia Publishing, 2008], and Ute Legends [Caxton, 2017]. Celinda’s account of the Elder’s ceremony to heal the Bird Flu is included in McGaa’s 2007 best seller Creator’s Code, and her poetry is included in the 2007 anthology Open Range by Ghost Road Press. She is the author of hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles and has lectured extensively throughout the Pikes Peak region.
Kaelin is proud to be an adopted member of both the Ute and Lakota American Indian Nations. She follows the Lakota spiritual tradition as a carrier of the Sacred Pipe and has completed 15 Sun Dances.
The Taos County Historical Society, formed in 1953 is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a vision to preserve the irreplaceable. Membership is open to anyone upon the payment of annual dues. For additional information on the Society visit www.taoscountyhistoricalsociety.org .