plein air, oil, 9" x 12", 'San Juan Bautista Mission'
El Camino Real
began occupying what is now California.
Franciscan padres supervised the construction of 21 missions to convert the
California Indians to Roman Catholicism and teach them European agriculture and
trade. The military established four presidios (forts) to protect the new
colonies. Travel between the settlements was difficult due to the great
distances and rough terrain. Establishing a connecting road system was vital to
the Spanish success. The Native Californians had developed routes to their
hunting, gathering and trade areas. The roads and routes varied with the
seasons. The Spanish followed and expanded these existing routes to link the
missions, presidios, and pueblos (towns). Some of these routes became the Royal
Road, today’s El Camino Real.
Portions of El Camino Real later became stagecoach roads and automobile highways. At the turn of the 20th century,
women’s clubs began marking the old road with reproduction mission bells. Today
the bells still mark the route between the missions.