Jesuit Road Building to Facilitate the Mission Process continued...

  • El Camino Real crosses the Llano del Gentil as it approaches Misión de San Borja, 1967.
    The old Jesuit road follows surveyor-straight legs as it heads north to the mission from the foot of a tall grade called the Cuesta del Gentil. The pass at the top of grade is crowned by stunted specimens of two characteristic local plants, cirio [Fouquiera columnaris] and garambullo [Lophocereus schottii]. Also visible when I passed in 1967 was this trail marker that may well have dated from mission times.
  • El Camino Real crosses the Llano del Gentil - trail marker, 1967
  • Misión de Santa Maria de los Angeles, 1967
    In 1767, less than a year before their expulsion from the peninsula, the Jesuits established their last California mission, intending it to be another step toward the north and a linkage with Jesuit missions of Sonora- this conjunction had been a dream of Padres Kino and Salvatierra as early as 1691 when they began to plan their mission to California. Santa María was soon by-passed in the bustle of opening Alta California and establishing a Franciscan mission and then Dominican missions just to the north. During its brief years, Santa María was administered successively by the three orders; no one knows which built the adobe structures whose picturesque ruins mark the now-quiet, palm-filled arroyo.

Santa Ana, California's First Mining Camp and Secular Village

An eyewitness description of the peninsula, written in 1740, mentioned the presence of silver at a site called Santa Ana. Manuel de Ocio, California's first entrepreneur, knew the Santa Ana region well. As a soldier, he picked up supplies at the landing place on the gulf shore opposite the prominent island of Cerralvo and escorted them to his assigned base at Todos Santos, sixty miles away. The trail he followed passed within a few hundred yards of Santa Ana on its way to the peninsular divide. By 1748, Ocio had laid claim to Santa Ana and begun to develop the place with a newly hired crew. Initially, Ocio had brought in several dozen men, some already living in California- ex-soldiers, soldiers' sons, and ex-mission servants while others were mine workers hired in New Spain. Within two or three years, Ocio's primitive smelting and amalgamation treatments of ore where producing several hundred pounds of silver a year, a tiny amount when compared to production elsewhere in New Spain, but tantalizing to promise to royal officials who never before had received a peso in taxes on any California mineral production.

  • Bahía de la Ventana and the Surgidero de Cerralvo, 1992
    The anchoring place far down this beach served pearlers as early at the mid-17th century, then Manuel de Ocio as he developed Santa Ana, and finally Visitor General José de Gálvez and all his retinue when they visited California in 1768 to set in motion the occupation of Alta California.
  • Ruins of an eighteenth century silver refining installation, 1974
    The remains of a smelting oven and an aqueduct can yet be seen at a site called El Mortero, a few hundred yards from the Real de Santa Ana. A young specimen of zalate, the peninsular wild fig, spreads its buttressing roots over and into the aqueduct.
  • Real de Santa Ana, 1974
  • Adobe ruins at Santa Ana, 1974
    When Manuel de Ocio opened his mining camp in 1748, his workers and their families soon created a Hispanic village. In 1768, after the Jesuits were expelled from California, the King's representative, José de Gálvez, came from Mexico to direct the opening of Alta California. For several months, Gálvez occupied Ocio's headquarters at Santa Ana and it was their that he, Governor Gaspar de Portolá, and Padre Junípero Serra planned the expeditions by land and sea that were to occupy the new territory to the north. Santa Ana's mines soon played out and the place was virtually deserted by the time of Mexican Independence (1821).
  • San Telmo Valley seen from foothills of the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, 1968.
    Governor Gaspar de Portolá chose the experienced California captain, Fernando de Rivera y Moncada, to lead the first ground party to Alta California. Rivera y Moncada had led earlier explorations to a point about half way to San Diego from the Jesuit's most northerly mission. Therefore, in 1769, he started north on a familiar route into the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir. Rivera's party then went on into unexplored parts of the sierra and, judging from their diaries, probably emerged from the mountains to encounter this scene. The date was April 13, 1769; a month later the land expedition was united at San Diego with members of the expedition who had gone by sea.
  • Map of Missions.

Ranch Types and Ranch Locations

  • View of the west looking down the arroyo of Rancho del Potrero, 1980
    Two ranch clearings appear almost as specks in this great cleft in the sierra.