Drive the High Road To Taos / NM Road Trips

chimayo new mexico shrine

The High Road to Taos is a great scenic drive in northern New Mexico and a culturally rich drive. This part of New Mexico is an artist mecca and it’s also a great side trip while visiting either Santa Fe or Taos.

rancho de taos mission

Mission in Rancho de Taos

A 56 Mile Scenic Drive

The High Road to Taos drive is 56 miles in total length as it winds it’s way along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Santa Fe and Taos. Your drive will take you through art communities and it’s unique galleries as well as through Native American villages.

The south end of this drive begins at the intersection of US Hwy 285/84 and NM 503, about 17 miles north of Santa Fe. The northern end of this route is at Rancho de Taos where NM 518 meets NM 68. Most New Mexican’s however consider the end to be at the San Francisco de Asis Mission church which is in Rancho de Taos. Any road trip in northern New Mexico promises to be a scenic adventure with incredible photo opportunities, and the High Road to Taos is a perfect example.

truchas new mexico

Art gallery in remote Truchas, NM

A Culture Rich Scenic Drive

You’ll find that the High Road to Taos is dotted with towns, some quite small, that tell the story of the early years of Spanish rule. You may find that the local dialect is distinctive, and many area residents can claim ancestors who settled the towns in the 18th century.

The Spaniards left New Mexico (Nuevo Mexico) in about 1821 as a result of the Mexican Revolution. Mexico maintained rule until1846 when the U.S. took control during the Mexican American War.

Galleries Along the High Road to Taos

Many of the tourists who travel this road remark how remote these towns are. Some of these quaint high desert towns are geographically remote yet at the same time feature .  unique art galleries. You’ll find that the authentic quality of New Mexican artwork is alive and well there and rival the galleries in Santa Fe and Taos. Artists have been inspired by the remarkable scenery along the High Road to Taos route.

This area of northern New Mexico receives it’s share of snow and cold weather. That’s one of the reasons that ski slopes in Santa Fe and Taos attract so many winter tourists. Some, not all, of the galleries along the High Road to Taos also stay open year round.

The High Road Art Tour

One special time along this famous route is during the last half of September. This is the time of the “High Road Art Tour‘ which takes place the last two weekends every September.

The High Road Art Tour gives you the opportunity to deal directly with the artists as well as to visit the tiny, historic Spanish Land Grant villages along the way. You’ll be able to browse multiple crafts and all types of traditional works along with contemporary painting and arts. This has to be one of the most unique art tour routes in all of the U.S. The High Road Art Tour is put together each year by the High Road Artisans, a volunteer-run organization. You may want to visit their website for additional information and event postings at


See additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…..

The Old Turquoise Mines of Cerillos NM / A Short Hiking Trip

A Spanish Mission in Rancho de Taos NM

chimayo new mexico shrine

El Sancturario de Chimayo

Chimayo, New Mexico

The High Road to Taos will also pass by the town of Chimayo which is home to El Sancturario de Chimayo

The Chimayo Sancturario is a world renown mission church and shrine that dates back to the very first Spanish settlers in the area and is considered a shrine where over 300,000 visitors travel there annually.  Sancturario de Chimayo is a religious shrine. This is a must stop while driving the High Road route. 

Northern New Mexico offers the tourist many interesting historic venues to visit along with several very scenic road trip routes. If time permits during your visits to either Santa Fe or Taos, the High Road to Taos is a road trip you don’t want to miss.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)


Drive the Historic Illinois Lincoln Highway / History and Attractions

This feature article is about  the Illinois Lincoln Highway which extends across the state east to west for a length of 179 miles. Before we describe the Illinois section of this historic transcontinental highway, we want to offer you a brief history about this early 1900′s project along with some of the people who made it possible.

lincoln highway route markerRoads Before the Lincoln Highway

The Lincoln Highway was the nation’s first transcontinental highway.The highway, planned in 1913, had a positive lasting effect that fostered the Good Roads movement which also led to the establishment of the historic Route 66.

Prior to the conception of the Lincoln Highway, automobile manufacturers were growing by leaps and bounds but the highway situation in the country was something else altogether. In 1912 there were actually no decent roads (for automobile driving) in the U.S. There was no asphalt and concrete at that time and the definition of an improved road was simply one that was graded. There was also no general road plan. Roads would generally lead outside of a town in all directions.

Names Behind the Creation of the Lincoln Highway

Leaders were needed to galvanize action to make a coast to coast highway possible. Money would have to be raised and to accomplish this an adequate amount of promotion to the public was necessary. Help from the Detroit automakers and suppliers would be  essential, most importantly from people like Henry Ford.

Most credit Carl Fisher with the original idea for this coast to coast national highway. Fisher is well known for several endeavors including the co-founding and building of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 16th Street and Georgetown Road, about six miles est of downtown Indianapolis, IN.

joliet illinois lincoln highway

Downtown Joliet, Illinois

Fisher worked on a plan that in addition to building funds from automakers and auto suppliers, towns along the way would provide equipment and enjoy the commercial benefits of being located on this transcontinental highway. Another source of revenue would come from the public who for $5 each could be members of this historic highway.

As it turned out, Henry Ford refused to help fund the highway, believing that it as the public’s responsibility. Those however who joined Carl Fisher did include Henry Joy, the president of the Packard Motor Car Company and Frank Seiberling, president of Goodyear Tire Company.

Naming the Highway

At the time of the organizing and fund raising, there was no name chosen for the future highway.  It just so happened that the federal government was mulling over spending $1.7 million for a marble monument in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Henry Joy from Packard came up with the idea for naming the highway after Lincoln and he and Carl Fisher then urged Congress to use the monument funds for the highway construction instead. The argument was that a transcontinental highway would make a much higher profile monument to the late President.

Routing the Highway

States were lobbying for routes that of course would be beneficial to them. As it turned out, the route chosen for the New York City to San Francisco federal highway would essentially be the most direct one. The Lincoln Highway has the distinction of being the first paved transcontinental highway in the nation.

The Illinois Lincoln Highway

Today, the Illinois Lincoln Highway is a 179 mile long National Scenic Byway. Travel this highway that runs through northern Illinois and discover each town and city’s unique culture and historic sites and landmarks.

The Lincoln Highway route enters Illinois on the east at the town of Lynwood and leaves the state on the west over the Mississippi River. The highway is comprised through Illinois via U.S. 30, and Illinois Routes 31 and 38.

The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition along with many local historians, artists and various civic leaders are all credited for the unique thirty-five interpretive murals along the Lincoln Highway. An excellent website with a detailed description of each mural is…

You may also enjoy additional Trips Into History articles found on the links below…

Drive Wisconsin’s Picturesque Lake Superior Scenic Byway

Travel Michigan’s Copper Harbor Scenic Highway

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile / Historic Fourth Presbyterian Church

ronald reagan boyhood home dixon illinois

Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, Dixon, IL

More attractions along the Illinois Lincoln Highway include Ronald Reagan’s Home and Visitor Center in Dixon, the 1950′s Midway Drive-In Theater in Sterling, Original 1928 Lincoln Highway concrete markers in Ashton, the 1926 Rialto Square Theater in Joliet, the Black Hawk Statue, the Eternal Indian in Oregon and many more.

Just as with the old Route 66 built years later, the Lincoln Highway spurred the opening of motor courts, diners and gas stations, drive-ins, roadside stands selling just about everything and of course hamburger stands. All things that served the motorist sprang up. Driving these historic highways today is truly taking a trip back into history as some of these old structures still exist today and several museums display photos of Illinois’ Lincoln Highway early years.

illinois lincoln highway route






100 Year Anniversary in 2015

In commemoration of 100 years since the opening of the Lincoln Highway, the Lincoln Highway Association will host the “Henry B. Joy” Tour. The tour will run from June 27-July 8, 2015. The 2015 Tour will depart the Packard Proving Grounds north of Detroit, Michigan on Saturday, June 27 and take 12 days to travel 2,836 miles across America, arriving at the Lincoln Highway Western Terminus in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, July 8.  For more information on joining this tour including rates and details, see website…..

Some very good books on the historic Lincoln Highway include…..Lincoln Highway Across Illinois, The Images of America by David A. Belden and Christine O’Brien…..Greetings from the Lincoln Highway: A Road Trip Celebration of America’s First Coast-to-Coast Highway by Brian Butko…...Lincoln Highway Companion: A Guide to America’s First Coast-to-Coast Road by Brian Butko.

(Article copyright Trips Into History. Photo of Reagan Boyhood Home courtesy of Ivo Shandor, CC By 2.5. Remaining photos and images in the public domain)

A Trip Into Railroad History / San Angelo Texas

The possibility of a transcontinental railroad, one connecting both oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific, was discussed as far back in time prior to the treaty with Great Britain settling the Oregon question in 1846. Twenty-two years later the nation did indeed celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

railroad depot santa fe

Old Santa Fe Depot

The fact of the matter was that steam engine technology was advancing and a railroad line spanning that distance was a distinct possibility. In 1849 Eli Whitney published a booklet to promote his idea entitled Project for a Railroad to the Pacific.

San Angelo Texas

San Angelo, Texas, at first named San Angela, had it’s beginnings just after the end of the Civil War when Fort Concho was established in 1867 at the confluence of three rivers in West Central Texas. This was an active frontier military post primarily providing protection against Indian raids. At various times Fort Concho was home to mounted cavalry, infantry, and the famous Black Cavalry whose members were respectfully called “Buffalo Soldiers” by the Native Americans in the area.

locomotive exhibits

Old AT & SF locomotive exhibt

Trips Into History Visits San Angelo Texas Railroad Museum

Trips Into History had the opportunity to visit an excellent west Texas railroad museum in San Angelo.

As was the case with many old train depots, when passenger service to non mainline destinations declined, mostly due to the automobile, plans were made to eventually tear them down. They were not being used and they were a liability to the railroads. As an interesting side note, there actually was a stagecoach operating between San Angelo and Sonora, Texas as late as 1921.

In some cases, and San Angelo was one, local civic groups campaigned to save these historic train stations and turn them into either railroad museums, and/or museums and special event centers. The same was the case with many of the old Harvey Houses that were built all along the Santa Fe Railroad lines. Some were Harvey Houses providing overnight accommodations and others were simply Fred Harvey Dining Rooms.

old railroad passes

A 1912 train pass for a railroad company director, displayed at the San Angelo Railroad Museum

In the case of San Angelo, Texas, some people wanted to turn it into an art gallery while others wanted to divide it into office space to be rented.  Eventually the locals decided to develop the old railroad depot into a railroad museum which officially opened in 1996.

If your travels take you to Belen, New Mexico, just a short drive south of Albuquerque you’ll also find an old Santa Fe Railroad train depot turned into a fascinating railroad museum.

Built by the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad in 1909 San Angelo depot was one of a kind. For a small town in 1909 like San Angelo, with just over 6,500 residents, this was a very large structure and the second largest building in San Angelo at the time.

The KCM&O used the building for passenger service and as their Texas corporate headquarters up until they were purchased by the Santa Fe Railroad which moved from their smaller facilities on the North side of town in 1929.

The San Angelo museum’s official name is The Historic Orient/Santa Fe Depot, Inc. The museum does a terrific job explaining the formation and development of railroad lines through San Angelo and west Texas. See artifacts and photos covering 150 years of railroading in the West as well as exhibits relating to the railroad lines passing through San Angelo.

Model Railroad Displays

Model railroad enthusiasts will get to view model train exhibits established by the Model Railroad Club of the Concho Valley.  The club was founded in 1997, shortly after the museum was established. Model Railroad Club of the Concho Valley welcomes new members of any skill level.

The club exhibits model trains Z, N, HO, O and Ggauges for the San Angelo museum’s permanent displays. There is a new HO layout of the KCM&O as it heads West out of San Angelo and passes through Barnahart, Fort Stockton and Presidio before passing over the Mexican Border at Presidio.For more information regarding the Model Railroad Club of the Concho Valley see website…..

You may also enjoy the Trips Into History articles found on the links below…

Historic U.S. Train Depots

Railroads in Texas / The Frisco

Historic Dining Cars of the Santa Fe Railroad

model railroad exhibits texas

One of the model railroad exhibits

Visit the San Angelo Texas Railroad Museum

San Angelo, Texas is located in Tom Green County. The city is home to Goodfellow Air Force Base, Angelo State University, the historic Cactus Hotel, the fourth hotel built by Conrad Hilton, and historic Fort Concho. Fort Concho hosts various events throughout the year. For more information on the fort’s activities see webesite...

The city is located about 112 miles southeast of Midland…about 200 miles northwest of Austin…and about 225 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

References for this article and books we recommend include…..Early San Angelo by author Virginia Noelke. Also, Railroad Transportation In Texas (1909) by author Charles Shirley Potts.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)

Features artifacts from150 years of railroading along with photos of the railroad and opening of the West by railroads. – See more at:



The Wells Fargo Stagecoach / Photos and History

Today, at cities and towns all across the nation people can see the sight of Wells Fargo Stagecoach reproductions during parades and special events. The Wells Fargo Stagecoach remains the logo of the modern banking concern and serves as a symbol of it’s service during the American frontier era.

wells fargo concord coach

Wells Fargo Concord Coach

The stage coach used for today’s parades and events is an authentic, Wells Fargo-approved reproduction. The coach is pulled by a specially trained team of six horses, and guided by an experienced stagecoach driver. Viewing these fine coaches is a real trip back into history.

Who Built the Wells Fargo Stages

The beautiful stagecoaches that Wells Fargo is noted for were built by the Abbott-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire. The coaches known as “Concord Coaches” were considered the best built coaches in the country.

Today, there is an Abbott-Downing Historical Society whose purpose is to preserve the history of the Concord Coach and the Abbott-Downing Company.Their website is  Plenty of good information on this site as well as an interesting video and information on how to have one of their coaches at your event or parade.

concord coach interior

Interior of Concord Coach

According to their website, the first coach was constructed in 1826/27 and the last circa 1899. The total number of Concord Coaches built totaled approximately 1,700. A Concord Wells Fargo coach weighed about 2,500 lbs and cost about $2,500.

While we’ve usually  seen Wells Fargo coaches pulled by a team of six horses, the coaches have also been pulled by teams of two and four.

Wells Fargo Stagecoaches Operated Throughout the West

Wells Fargo transported their customers business  from 1852 to 1918 by a variety of methods. This included via steamship, railroad, and, where there were no railroads, by stagecoach.

During their early year Wells Fargo contracted with independent stage lines. Then, Wells Fargo came to own and operate the largest stagecoach operation in the world. That operation became famous with it’s Concord Coaches being pulled by a team of six horses.

Wells Fargo was also involved in the old Butterfield Overland Stage and Mail line helping with finances and having the 2,757 mile route surveyed across the American southwest and California.

The Butterfield line was rather short lived because of the onset of the Civil War. Becaue of Confederate control of Texas and parts of the New Mexico Territory, the route had to be moved to the north, essentially along the old Overland Route along the Platte River and through Wyoming.

At that time, Wells Fargo’s express shipments rode the stages of the Pioneer Stage Line from California to Virginia City, Nevada. The Overland Mail Company, which was controlled by Wells Fargo, ran stagecoaches from Virginia City, Nevada,to Salt Lake City, Utah. From Salt Lake City passengers, mail and express shipments connected with the Overland Express running through Denver, Colorado, and eastward to the Mississippi River. After the Civil War, Wells Fargo bought the Overland Express and combined with the other two lines it owned created the largest stagecoach operation in the world.

You may also enjoy our additional articles on old west stagecoaches found on the links below…

The Last Days of the California Stagecoach

Riding a Stagecoach in the Old West

On our Western Trips website see the Black Canyon Arizona Stage Route

wells fargo stage coachWhere to See the Wells Fargo Stagecoaches

Wells Fargo maintains several museums around the country and I recommend you visit one on  your next vacation or road trip. Not only can you view their iconic stagecoaches, but also exhibited are banking and express documents, working telegraphs, western art, gold coins, old money, and more. These are interesting museums and make good family trip stops.

All of the ten Wells Fargo Museums are free to enjoy. They are currently located in Charlotte, NC, Anchorage, AK, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Minneapolis, MN, Portland, OR, Phoenix, AZ, San Diego, CA, Sacramento, CA, and San Francisco, CA.

For more information regarding the Wells Fargo Museums, see website…

The Wells Fargo Stagecoaches also appear at events throughout the year. For a current list of planned appearances see their website…

Our references and `two very good books regarding the history of Wells Fargo and their stagecoaches include…..Stagecoach : Wells Fargo and the American West by author Philip L. Fradkin. Also see…..Stagecoach: Rare Views of the Old West, 1849-1915 by author Sandor Demlinger.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)

Rare Antique Telephones and Where to See Them

Trips Into History wishes to take you on a tour to the several excellent telephone museums spread around the country with their large collections of antique telephones and telephone equipment.

telephone swithchboard 1940

1940′s era telephone switchboard

In this day of instant messaging and mobile phones, antique telephones take us back to the period when communication in the U.S. and the world was in it’s infancy.

Walk through a museum with impressive collections of old telephone equipment and you’re transported back in time. Take a look at some of the earliest experimental equipment and you might find it difficult to recognize it as a communication tool.

There was a time when simple telephone communications represented cutting edge technology. After all, some in 1910 were still arguing that the horse was more reliable than the automobile. Arguably, communication technology continues to move forward with our IPhones and Androids.

magneto wall pay station

Magneto Wall Pay Station

Below are interesting historical examples of what people used to communicate with many, many years ago.

Magneto Wall Pay Station

This telephone apparatus dates back to the year 1900 and was manufactured by Stromberg Carlson-Gray.

Magneto meant that the power to talk was supplied by two dry cell batteries. Customers created signaling power by turning a hand crank on the telephone box. The operators were alerted to a call when a metal hook holding a drop in place retracted and released the drop. The buzzing sound signaled someone wanted to make a call. The difference with using a common battery was that all power was generated from the central telephone office including power for the customer’s phone. This phone was used for coin telephone communications.

gallows frame telephone

Gallows Frame telephone

Gallows Frame Telephone

This particular telephone was designed and manufactured by Alexander Graham Bell and is thought to be one of only two left in existence. It is on display at the Fort Concho Museum in San Angelo Texas.

The Gallows Frame Telephone dates back to 1876, the same year as Custer’s Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana.

This apparatus takes you back to the invention and early development of the telephone. This device was not good enough to distinguish intelligible speech, but it was a significant breakthrough in the development of the telephone.

Bell was able to send not just a single tone beep, but actual sounds between one room and another. This was accomplished using an electromagnetic signal which was picked up by a metal reed. The metal reed vibrated against a cloth diaphragm. The unit was considered  experimental.

The other Gallows Frame Telephone is one of the exhibits at the Science Museum’s new gallery called Information Age in London, England.

See our Trips Into History articles on the links below. Articles also describe fun venues to visit regarding both subjects.

Crossing the Atlantic With Marconi’s Wireless

Laying of the Trans-Atlantic Cable

bell centennial telephone

Bell’s Centennial Telephone

Bell’s Centennial Telephone 1876

This type early telephone was exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia by Alexander Graham Bell.  “My word! It talks!” exclaimed Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil on June 25, 1876, when he listened to the receiver of Bell’s telephone at the Centennial Exposition. The voice he heard was coming from 100 yards away and this type of publicity helped make Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone the talk of the international scientific community. Prior to all this publicity generated by Emperor Dom Pedro it was said that the Centennial judges were pretty much ignoring Bell’s telephone.

Another interesting fact is that the first U.S. President to have one of Bell’s telephones in the White House was Rutherford B. Hayes. The phone was installed in 1878 and Hayes’ first call was made to Bell. It was reported that Hayes’ first words were said to have been, “Please speak more slowly.”

alexander graham bell postage stampAn interesting venue to see Bell’s Centennial Telephone and other rare antique models is the JKL Museum of Telephony. John K. La Rue’s Museum of Telephony, part of the American Museum of Telephony, is dedicated to preserving telephone history. The museum contains telephones and related items from the dawn of telephony (late 1800s) to the present day. One of the telephone museum’s goals is to have working telephones from all eras.


This museum is located near San Andreas, California. For more information and directions see website…

(Article copyright Trips Into History. Photos of Gallows Frame and Magneto Wall Pay Station from Trips Into History Collection. Bell’s Centennial Telephone and postage stamp image from the public domain)