The Pacheco Pass

Just before Mexico declared itself independent from Spanish rule, 29-year-old Francisco Pacheco arrived in Monterey, a carriage maker turned soldier in the Spanish Army. After distinguishing himself in the battle to recapture Mission La Purisima (in modern Lompoc) from disgruntled Indians, Pacheco was granted a town lot in Monterey. As was customary at the time, Pacheco had brought his wife and children with him to his new post; realizing prosperity lay with land ownership, he petitioned for another lot with a better source of water. As the years progressed Pacheco acquired increasing herds of livestock and fathered more children, both requiring more land. In the 1830s he served in several responsible positions, including commandante of the home guard, a rural judge, treasurer of Monterey, and alderman. In 1833 Governor Figueroa granted him 9,000 acres east of present-day Gilroy. This was sparse grazing land for his cattle, and Pacheco continued to acquire more until he owned 35,505 acres. Three years later he was granted an additional 6,800 acres, and in 1844 purchased a 33,690 acre parcel named Rancho San Justo. A strategic pass on Pacheco’s ranch led west from the San Joaquin Valley over the coastal range into the Salinas Valley, utilized by Captain John Fremont during the Mexican-American War. Francisco Pacheco sold Rancho San Justo to two Americans in 1855, who sold half of it to W. W. Hollister. From 1858-1861, Pacheco Pass was the site of one of the stage stations on the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail. State Route 152 traverses Pacheco Pass today.  


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