The Missions: Number 2

A year after founding Mission San Diego in 1769, Father Junipero Serra, other missionary priests, and soldiers gathered at Monterey Bay to witness the formal ceremony to erect the Holy Cross near the earlier-established Monterey Presidio. This ceremony on June 3, 1770, marked the beginning of the second Franciscan mission, Continue reading The Missions: Number 2

The Missions: Number 1

Two hundred and fifty years after Cortes claimed Mexico and the vast lands north of it for Spain, the Spanish Crown faced a crisis: Russian ships were aggressively nosing about its completely undefended province on the Pacific Coast known as Alta (Upper) California. King Carlos III financed a company of Franciscan Continue reading The Missions: Number 1

Creating California’s Missions

The Catholic priest who is credited with creating California’s coastal missions was born Miguel Jose Serra, on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain. Entering the Franciscan Order at sixteen, he took the baptismal name of Junipero and was soon recognized as a preacher of uncommon power and eloquence. His Continue reading Creating California’s Missions

Snow-Shoe Thompson

In the mid-1850s, the search was on in earnest for a better wagon road over the Sierra Nevada. Rough roads were built, and used, but all wheeled travel was necessarily suspended during the snow-packed winter months. However, except in the worst weather the mail did go through, by pack mule and horse—and the spectacular efforts of a lone man on skis. His name was John A. Thompson, aka “Snow-shoe Thompson,” and in January 1856 Continue reading Snow-Shoe Thompson

Known as the Golden State

Gold is California’s official state mineral, so designated in 1965.  The gold discovery in January 1848 rapidly transformed a pastoral landscape with less than 10,000 Mexican citizens into a societal melting pot, as prospectors came from all over the world to seek their fortunes. Between 1850 and 1859, miners extracted Continue reading Known as the Golden State