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Roadside America in the West: History along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail

Author(s): Minette Church

Year: 2015

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The highways and byways of the Colorado/New Mexico borderlands are dotted with publicly funded roadside interpretive signs providing a short history of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. The goal of these signs is commemoration and education of the traveling public, yet the facts are questionable and nuances are flattened. Must accuracy be sacrificed to achieve brevity and accessibility? The time has come to challenge the roadside nationalist narrative in favor of one that people who live and motor along the trail in 2015 might actually recognize. Every semester we stand before classrooms as diverse as these borderlands highway travelers. Archaeology as a discipline is well placed to share stories of the Santa Fe Trail with the descendants of those who lived along it, incorporating their perspectives. A roadside interpretive sign is a limited genre, but surely we can do better than the shopworn tales they currently provide.

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Cite this Record

Roadside America in the West: History along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. Minette Church. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433720)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 300

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America