Sunday, February 2, 2014

Nice and Warm California


plein air, oil, 9" x 12", 'San Juan Bautista Mission'

El Camino Real
California’s Royal Road

In 1769 Spain 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, California women’s clubs began marking the old road with reproduction mission bells. Today the bells still mark the route between the missions.