The Santa Fe Trail Center Museum and Research Library is the headquarters of the Santa Fe Trail Association. The Association is composed of people who are interested in the history and preservation of the Santa Fe Trail. Surrounding the museum are examples of pioneer life that grew out of the Trail itself. You can see a sod house, dugout, one-room school house, Santa Fe Railroad depot, windmill, and an African American church. The museum shows that the Santa Fe Trail was not a one-way trail.
American traders moved goods to Mexico and brought different items back to Missouri. Merchants from Mexico were traveling east to Missouri to sell their goods. This made the Trail an international road. Then these wealthy Mexican merchants oft en traveled by steamboat to the East (to Philadelphia or New York) where they would purchase items for their stores in Santa Fe. Sometimes they brought their children with them and left them at boarding schools in the East. The goods the Mexicans purchased were sent back to Missouri by steamboat. There they were loaded onto freight wagons where they began the trip over the Santa Fe Trail to Santa Fe. Some merchants sent a portion of their goods further south to Chihuahua, Mexico, and their other stores.
By 1830, most of the traders going to Chihuahua were Mexican. In the 1840s, there were more Mexican traders on the Santa Fe Trail than American merchants. One of these important Mexican merchants was Don Antonio Jose Chavez. This wealthy merchant was attacked by bandits on a creek not too far from here. He was killed, and his silver and supplies were stolen.