Transportation

NEW MEXICO, next youngest and fourth largest of the
States, is now served reasonably well by its transportation sys-
tems. The Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific railways cross
it; and branches of major lines weave in and out of canyons to mines,
oil and potash fields, and recreation centers. The caravans of one
hundred and eighty-two freight bus lines, ninety-seven of which are
interstate, ply the highways on regular schedules. Sixty-one passenger
bus lines, twenty-eight of which are interstate, carry the traveler over
the vast and colorful expanse of the State to almost every village and
hamlet. For those who prefer to journey by air, transcontinental
planes stop regularly at well-equipped fields.

The history of transportation in New Mexico extends back, of
course, into antiquity when goods were carried on human backs. Still
later the dog became the beast of burden, but both of these methods
still prevailed among the Indians when the Spaniards came. After
Coronado's conquest (1540), the horse, mule, burro, and ox were in-
troduced ; and following Onate's permanent settlement of New Mexico
(1598) the pack train came into general use. These trains, which
slowly made their way from Chihuahua in Mexico to Santa Fe over
El Camino Real (The Royal Road), consisted of from five to as many
as five hundred burros and mules, with loads securely strapped on their
backs. Later came the carreta, with solid wooden wheels, and ox-
timbrils, huge two-wheeled carts.

El Camino Real was a very important road in New Mexico's early
development. At least as early as 1581 it was traveled by three mission-
ary friars and their escort. From Vera Cruz on the eastern coast of
Mexico, this famous highway ran to El Paso, and thence along the right
bank of the Rio Grande to Socorro and Albuquerque. From Albu-
querque it climbed northward along the flank of the Sandias, ascended
La Bajada to the mesa, and crossed the plateau to the foothills of the
Sangre de Cristo at the village of Santa Fe.

As early as 1609, committees representing the Church and State met
in Mexico City to decide upon a definite method of transporting goods
to the new province. This new service became known as the Mission
Supply. Every three years thereafter a train was organized and sent
to New Mexico, returning to Chihuahua with salt, copper, turquoise,