The New Mexicans carried woolen goods–rugs, blankets, and other woven products–along the trail to California where they traded them for horses and mules that in turn were driven back to New Mexico for sale. Along the route traders sometimes swapped animals for Paiute slaves or stole children outright from the relatively weak tribes. The slave trade peaked in the 1830s and 1840s, with Chief Wakara’s Ute bands playing a major role in capturing and trading slaves who brought good prices in California.
Other items from knives to cooking utensils were also brought for trade – both ways – and of course beaver, fox, wolves, and coyotes were killed for their fur, which were valuable commodities both in Santa Fe and Los Angeles.
What did those early traders eat?
Food was anything that could be obtained on the journey – meat from game was dried; berries, pinon nuts, and posole were the common foodstuffs and of course friendly Indians would have helped the travelers – in exchange for goods, of course.
Water, as it has been for millennia, was always at a premium and like most trails, remnants of the Old Spanish Trail can be found close to rivers and streams.