Camino Real de Tierra Adentro/Jornada Del Muerto

Camino Real de Tierra Adentro/Jornada Del Muerto

Long before Europeans arrived, the various indigenous tribes and kingdoms that had arisen throughout northern Mexico had established the route that would later become the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro as a major thoroughfare for hunting and trading. The route connected the peoples of the Valley of Mexico with those in the north.  By 1000 AD, a flourishing trade network existed from Mesoamerica to the Rocky Mountains.

In April 1598, a group of military scouts led by Juan de Oñate, the newly appointed colonial governor of the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México mapped a route to present-day Española, where Oñate would establish the capital of the new Spanish province.

The most treacherous part of the route was known as the Jornada del Muerto. Jornada del Muerto translates from Spanish as "Single Day's Journey of the Dead Man" or even "Route of the Dead Man, though the modern literal translation is closer to "The Working Day of the Dead". This particularly dry 100-mile stretch of the route from Las Cruces to Socorro was deadly. Regardless of one's feelings toward the actions of the early Spanish explorers, it took a brave soul to take on this route. Parts of the original Spanish trail can still be found today along present-day Interstate 25.