Wheels Across the West: History and Legacy of the Santa Fe Trail

In this episode, we delve into the forgotten narratives of Black cowboys along the historic Santa Fe Trail. Through the stories of famous and obscure frontiersmen like James Beckwourth, “Add,” George McJunkin, and Nat Love—and an interview with contemporary horseman and historian Trae Venerable—we shed light on the challenges, resilience, and contributions of Black cowhands. From overcoming societal prejudices to leaving a lasting legacy through archaeological discoveries and autobiographical accounts, these individuals exemplify the rich tapestry of experiences that define the American West. 

Written and narrated by: Zoe Wilson
Producer and engineer: Kyle Jackson
Interview guests: Trae Venerable (https://www.traevenerable.com/)
Theme Song: Fog Holler (Used with permission)
Additional Musical Elements: Fog Holler, Casey James Holmberg, Kyle Jackson, Kate Bone

What is Wheels Across the West: History and Legacy of the Santa Fe Trail?

"Wheels Across the West: History and Legacy of the Santa Fe Trail" invites listeners on a fun and fact-filled adventure across time and territory to make sense of an oft-overlooked overland trail. Created, written, and narrated by students at the University of Missouri’s Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy, Wheels Across the West covers a wide range of topics that intersect with the past and present of the American West: mules, military forts, missionization, Hollywood Westerns, gun culture, living history reenactors, pioneer women, Black cowboys, and so much more. Transporting listeners from Indigenous pathways, to international wagon caravans, to railroads, highways, and modern-day Main Streets, this series reveals how the infrastructure and cultural landscape of the West has been constructed atop foundations laid long ago.