NPS map of the Santa Fe Trail in late 1866 (click to zoom; more maps here)
The American Solar Challenge is on again in 2021, and includes a road race along the Santa Fe Trail on 4–7 August, from Independence, MO to Santa Fe, NM (exact route still to be decided).
To get myself in the mood, I’ve been reading Land of Enchantment, the memoirs of Marion Sloan Russell, who travelled the Santa Fe Trail multiple times. After marrying, she was an “army wife” for some time, before setting up a trading post beside the (somewhat shorter in 1866) Santa Fe Trail at Tecolote, NM (about 15 km south of Las Vegas, NM):
“We had five living rooms behind the store. They were cool and pleasant. The thick stone walls resisted both heat and cold. The windows were long and narrow running from ceiling to floor. I draped them with a gay silken print. The floor I had covered with Navajo rugs … Often I have heard old-timers laughing about the heat and the dust of the desert. I have heard them say jokingly that Hell would seem cool after living in Santa Fé. I had heard them say that the burning sands of the desert had sucked old-timers so dry that they could not pray. I had laughed with them …”
Hopefully solar cars in the American Solar Challenge do not find the temperatures quite so hellish. The chart below shows average maximum July temperatures (early August temperatures are on average only about 0.5°C cooler, and may indeed be warmer, which means that temperatures inside the vehicles will be very hot):
Click to zoom; map produced using climate data from worldclim.org
Other posts in this series: Santa Fe Trail #1, Santa Fe Trail #2, Santa Fe Trail #3, Santa Fe Trail #4.
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