The Old Spanish Trail, a 19th century trade route that stretched 1,200 miles between Santa Fe, N.M., and Los Angeles, would become a National Historic Trail under a bill passed by Congress.
The House approved the legislation Friday. The measure, approved by the Senate in August, now heads to President Bush for consideration.
The bill directs the interior secretary and National Park Service to encourage volunteer groups to participate in developing and maintaining the trail.
"The Old Spanish Trail served as a key trade and migration route that heavily influenced New Mexico's culture and history," said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who co-sponsored the measure.
The trail -- which also passed through Colorado, Utah and Nevada -- promoted trade and interaction between American Indians, Hispanics, Europeans and Americans, he said.
"Adding this trail to the National Historic Trail system will help us to preserve a key piece of our state's past," Bingaman said.
The trail, used mostly between 1829 and 1848, "provided an avenue for moving people and goods to the West," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., also a co-sponsor.
Much of the landscape that existed along the trail in the 1800s still exists.