The Original Mexican Border

Franciscan missionariesDuring the three hundred-plus years Spain claimed ownership of California by right of conquest, Spain’s official religion took a part in setting the state’s first southern boundary. Imperial Spain’s Nueva Espana (New Spain) was far-flung: it included the Caribbean, Mexico, and parts of what are now the southwestern Continue reading The Original Mexican Border

Explorer Juan Cabrillo

GE DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the most able of the Spanish commanders, Admiral Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was dispatched north from Mexico in 1543, with instructions to find the entrance to the hoped-for Northwest Passage to China.  Instead he found the eastern shore of Baja California, and sailing around to the Pacific Coast, an excellent port he named San Miguel, today’s San Diego. He is thought to have visited Catalina Island and then San Pedro, before boldly sailing farther north, after waiting out an eight day storm at the Channel Islands, to a cape with tall pine trees he named Cabo de Pinos (Point Reyes).  Here his two ships had become separated, and in turning back to search for his other ship, he found Monterey Bay. Cabrillo Beach at San Pedro is named for him, and Point Loma, at the entrance to the San Diego Harbor, is the site of the Cabrillo National Monument, complete with an imposing statue of the explorer.