Staff Report

Thanks to rap singer Little Nas X and his chart-busting hit song “Old Town Road,” living the cowboy life is on trend, appealing to city slickers and country folk alike. The catchy, “country-rap” tune, that’s gone viral with the help of Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo and others, begins with the words “Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road, I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more…”

This sentiment was undoubtedly shared by cowboys long ago who rode The Old Spanish Trail, a 1,200-mile stretch from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, New Mexico. A few years back, Richard Waller, Otis Calef and Jim Clark made this same journey on horseback and mule, which is recounted in a new documentary film, The Old Spanish Trail by filmmaker Benedicte Schoyen.

It will be screened at 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 8t, at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum. Afterward, there will be a Q&A with Ms. Schoyen and Jim Clark. Ned Clark, the film’s composer and narrator, will be on hand to perform original songs. The event will be capped off by a wine and cheese reception. The cost is $15.00 for members and $20 for non-members. Reservations are encouraged; please called the Museum at (805) 688-7889 or email to

The Old Spanish Trail witnessed a brief but furious heyday between 1830 and 1848 as a trade route linking Santa Fe and Los Angeles. It began as a network of trails in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah used by Native Americans for hunting, trade and travel, according to the National Park Service. Spanish explorers, with guidance from American Indians in those areas, began using routes as early as the mid-1700s. A route connecting Los Angeles and Santa Fe was established in 1829 when Mexican merchant and trader Antonio Armijo led 60 men and 100 mules across the Colorado Plateau and through the Mojave Desert on his way into Southern California, the NPS website shows.

The film tracks the journey of Richard, Otis and Jim as they ride the trail in two legs during the fall of 2014 and summer of 2015. Their trip begins in the El Cajon Pass near LA. No one had attempted to ride the trail’s full length since 1849. The riders run into problems staying true to trail because of highways and private land during their ride tracing the past. The trail is regarded as one of the most arduous of all trade routes established in the U.S. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in October 1988. A large part of the trail’s local section is now the Mojave Road, located in the Mojave National Preserve east of Barstow. The film is a reminder to all of us to protect and preserve the natural landscape and its trails. The film won an award in the category of Environmental and Mountain Culture Film at the 2019 Mountain Film Festival.

Museum Executive Director Brian Stenfors, Ph.D. Says that, “The Museum is pleased to be able to bring history alive to our members and guests by screening The Old Spanish Trail. It’s an opportunity to remind the Santa Ynez Valley community about how fortunate we are to live in a region that embraces trail riding, ranching and land stewardship. The films message reinforces our mission to protect and preserve our Valley way of life for present and future generations.”

For more information, please contact or Teresa Mills at (805) 688-7889 or visit