29-Dec-2001 -- This was one of the few US-Southwest confluences that had not been visited or attempted. So when we were in Santa Fe we had to give it a try. The confluence is located about 6 miles north of Ft. Union National Monument west of the Turkey Mountains. Topo maps and satellite pictures show plenty of dirt roads in the area.
Driving up the road from I-25 to the visitor center of Ft. Union we saw several dirt roads leading off in roughly the right direction, but they all had gates and/or 'No Trespassing' signs. At the visitor center I consulted a ranger and explained the project. Unfortunately their internet connection was down and I could not show the site. The ranger studied the topo maps with me and came to the conclusion that the confluence was most likely located on the property of the Fort Union Ranch. This ranch also owns the land around the National Monument. She gave me a phone number for the ranch and the Ojo Feliz Ranch north of it, just in case.
I immediately called the numbers but only got answering machines. An hour later after we came back from our walk around the ruins of the old Fort I tried again with the same result. I did not leave any messages as we would not be able to come back on a later day. So we had to call it an attempt about 6 miles from the spot. It should not be difficult to reach the confluence once permission from the appropriate ranch is granted. Maps and satellite pictures show a dirt road as close as 0.25 miles from the spot. So depending on road conditions and vehicle this might not involve much walking. On the other hand walking on dirt roads in this relatively flat terrain would be quite easy too. Maybe a confluencer from Santa Fe or Albuquerque can contact the ranches and get permission for a visit. It's an easy day trip from there.
Fort Union was one of the larger, more important forts on the Santa Fe Trail. The trail began on the west bank of the Missouri River in Franklin, MO and crossed all of Kansas. In western Kansas travelers had the option to use the shorter, but more dangerous (infrequent waterholes, hostile Indians) Cimarron cutoff or the Mountain Branch through parts of Colorado. These two routes merged at Fort Union and the trail continued from here to Santa Fe. There are places in the monument where the trail can still be recognized.
The pictures are all taken at the National Monument. Picture 2 is a view in the direction of the confluence.