The Explorers, 1492-1774
CHAPTER TWELVE: Anza Finds the Way
The next three years were difficult ones for those who remained at the San Diego Mission on Presidio Hill. Serra went with Portola on his second expedition to find Monterey and to carry out the king’s orders to build a settlement there. A mission was founded east of what is now Los Angeles at San Gabriel, the second in southern California. Then Serra was forced to return to Mexico to see what he could do to help in solving the continual problem of obtaining supplies. Twice the San Diego Mission had been nearly starved out. The sea route from La Paz or west coast mainland ports was long and dangerous, as had been proved, and the arrival of the faithful supply ships, the San Carlos and the San Antonio, was never certain. Most of the provisions and manufactured goods had to come from Baja California – which also was in a state of impoverishment – or from Mexico. Supplies often were transported up through Mexico, then shipped by boat across the Gulf to Baja California and packed by mule train up the peninsula to San Diego. There was a great need for more soldiers, laborers and colonists, but the little ships hardly had room for more than a minimum of supplies and their own crews. It was obvious another answer had to be found, or California still might be lost. The man who thought he had found the answer was Don Juan Bautista de Anza.
Anza, a frontiersman by birth, was captain of the presidio at Tubac, a settlement in the wedge Spain had driven into the Apache country of Arizona. Tubac today is a village north of Nogales, Arizona, on the highway to Tucson. Anza’s father and grandfather also had been in military service along the northern frontier. His father, once a temporary governor of Sonora, was killed by the Apaches and the son grew up as an Indian fighter in the town of Frontera in Sonora, just south of Douglas, Arizona. He volunteered for military duty at eighteen, became a lieutenant in 1755 and a captain five years later, and in 1763 married the sister of Jose Manuel Diaz del Carpio, chaplain of Tubac. The historic events in which he was destined to take part were to prove him a man of unusual ability and character. He was heavily bearded to the ears, with a strong and large nose and arched eyebrows. Rugged, as one had to be to dominate a wild and uncertain frontier, at the same time he was dignified in bearing and considerate of those in his command. That he was a thoughtful man was also of importance to the history of California.
The idea that a land route could be opened from Mexico to the new colonies in Alta California came to Anza in conversations with the Pima Indians in the area of Tubac. From them he learned that the Yuma Indians in the vicinity of the Colorado River had reported hearing of white men ranging up and down the coast. If the news of the Portola expeditions had been passed from one Indian tribe to another across mountains and deserts, as it obviously had, it must mean that there was a direct land route from Sonora to San Diego and Monterey. The fever of exploration began burning in Anza, as it had in so many before him.
Anza received support from a missionary, Fr. Francisco Garce’s, a Franciscan of Mission San Xaxier del Bac in Arizona, north of Tubac, an intrepid and insatiable explorer, who knew the Pima language and probably some of the Yuman. Traveling alone, on one of his many expeditions, he had gone down the Gila River to its junction with the Colorado and made friends with the Yuman chief, Salvador Palma. Then he had crossed the river, followed it downstream almost to the head of the Gulf, and returned in a northwesterly direction across the Baja California desert to a place called San Jacome near the base of the Cocopa Mountains, from which he sighted Cicero Prieto, or Black Mountain, thirty miles southeast of today’s Mexicali. He followed the interior desert valley north and crossed into what is now Imperial Valley, north of Laguna Salada, and, from a place near Santa Rosa or Yuha Well, his eyes followed the high blue coastal range in San Diego county far into the distance where he could see a gap in the San Jacinto Mountains, which to him meant that there was a pass and so a possible land route to Monterey. This gap, of course, was San Carlos Pass leading north out of Borrego Valley between the San Ysidro and Santa Rosa Mountains. It was an incredible journey for a lone man, made in the intense heat of the summer. Often he was without water but managed to live off the land through his ability to make friends with the Indians.
On his return, Garces told Anza what he had seen; his report crystalized Anza’s resolve to try and open an overland route to the new missions. Anza at first met indifference, but the appointment of a new viceroy of Mexico, Don Antonio Maria Bucareli y Ursua, was to bring action. On May 2, 1772, Anza wrote a letter to the viceroy in which he outlined his plan for opening communication between the port of Monterey and Sonora.
The letter reads, in part:
“The fervent desire which at all times moves me to serve his Majesty and advance his conquests, impels me to beg of your Excellency, in case you learn that it is to be granted to anyone, permission to make the necessary efforts to see if we can open communication between the port of Monte Rey and the province of Sonora … In 1769, the same year in which the expedition was made to find the Monte Rey mentioned, I learned through the heathen Pima tribe, which maintains communication with us and lives fifty leagues from this presidio, and the same distance or a little more from the junction of this river with the Colorado, that the vast tribes which live there had told them that on the other side of the Colorado, at some distance, white men were passing, a thing which they had never seen before. Having been assigned to the expedition which was then being made against the Pima and the Seris, I reported this news to the governor of the provinces, to my Colonel, Don Domingo Elizondo, commander of the expedition, and to officials who reside in that capital, and, finally, to the Senor Visitor- General, Don Joseph de Galvez, at the time of his coming to this province that year. In the same year this tribe repeated the story to the very reverend father Fray Francisco Garces, missionary de propaganda fide, who went to visit it, and who is now engaged in his ministry in the pueblo of San Xavier del Bac, distant from here fifteen leagues. And on another occasion the same tribe has recently repeated the same thing to me, which it never had done before. To all this it is to be added that this zealous missionary, with the aim of preparing the heathen situated in the northwest and west to receive the Holy Evangel, went in to them alone and with inexpressible hardships in the month of August of last year. Having been at the junction of the Colorado and Gila Rivers, he remained on these streams many days, conversing with the tribes who live there, by whom he was well received because of their natural docility. And through the Yuma tribe, which embraces a large part of the Colorado, he learned, without asking, that at no great distance from them there were white people. Those who had chanced to see them begged him by signs, which was the common language, that he should show them the compass, the glass for making fire, and other instruments which we use but which the father did not have, and which, if they had not seen them in that country, they could not have known about, for from this region no one has gone into their land, nor do they come out to ours, on account of the many enemies who keep the way closed to them. Likewise, they gave this father to understand that to the north and east of them there were also people of our own kind, distinct from those whom they indicated to the west, and that some of their relatives maintained communication with the Indians … who live in New Mexico, for otherwise, it would seem, they must be strangers.
“From the same Colorado River this father discovered a great mountain chain of blue color, and although he did not cross it he thinks that it may be the one which our troops skirted when they went to Monte Rey. And if it is on the other side of the river, as is believed, the lack of water on the way will presumably be much less than has been stated hitherto, because everybody has thought it to be through level country. Indeed, up to now, at least in these parts, we have had no notice of this sierra, and I believe that this is because those who have gone to the Colorado have always inclined toward the coast, and since they did not go up to the north they could not see it. In view of all these considerations, this reverend father and I are convinced that the distance from here to Monte Rey cannot be so great as formerly has been estimated, and that it will not be impossible to overcome any obstacles encountered on the way. Therefore, if all this should merit the approval of your Excellency, I hope that you will charge the president of these missions to grant the father mentioned permission to accompany me, for I am in accord with him to sacrifice myself to this purpose and to whatever may redound to the service of his Majesty and the glory of your Excellency …
“May God our Lord spare the important life of your Excellency the many years which I beg of him. Presidio of Tubac, May 2, 1772. Most excellent Sir,
Juan Bapta. de Anza”
Anza’s letter was referred to Costanso, now in Mexico, the engineer who had been with the Portola expedition and wrote so much descriptive detail about San Diego and California. He confirmed the belief that a land route was possible. By his calculations the distance between the Tubac and San Diego ought to be about 180 common leagues, or 540 miles, while from Loreto to San Diego over a difficult terrain it was about 300 leagues, or 900 miles. He also noted the fact there was direct communication between the many Indian peoples.
“This I know from experience, for I saw in the hands of Indians of the Channel of Santa Barbara certain articles which came from the Spaniards in New Mexico, such as pieces of wrought silver, knives, pieces of broadsword, and of manufactured iron, and blankets and fabrics of wool, for they told me they had obtained them from the east where lived some men dressed and armed like ourselves.”
As the territory had been explored as far as the Colorado River, to Costanso there remained only one difficulty, that of “seeking a way to the mountains which intervene between the Colorado and the coast of the South Sea. These, indeed, are wide and rough, in so far as I was able to judge from what I saw during my journey; but, on the other hand, some openings were seen, and since the Indians cross them easily, our people will be able to do likewise. . . ”
In Mexico City, Serra also expressed his interest in favor of a land route for supply, though he suggested a different route, one from Santa Fe, New Mexico, directly to Monterey. Bucareli cast the decision for an expedition from Sonora by way of the junction of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, with Anza as organizer and leader.
The good news was brought to Anza by Juan Bautista Valdes, who also originally had been with Portola and now rode the 1500 miles from Mexico City to Tubac with Bucareli’s orders. Loneliness and distance were nothing to him, and after the expedition reached its first goal, the mission at San Gabriel, he rode all the way back to Mexico City with Anza’s diary telling of the discovery of the land route to Alta California, news which the delighted Bucareli forwarded immediately to King Carlos III. California could be saved from the Russians.
Thus became the first of the great land explorers who were to open up the American west; the two pioneering treks which he led from Mexico up into California, with the loss of only one person, compare favorably with any in history. His first trek in 1774 broke 600 miles of new trail. The second, made in 1775-1776 with the first colonists for the new settlements in California, covered 1600 miles from its starting point, Culiacan, Sinaloa, to Monterey. Three children were born en route.
Accompanying Anza on the first expedition were two missionaries, the eager Garces and Fr. Juan Diaz, also a Franciscan, both of whom were fated to be martyred in an Indian massacre at Yuma in 1781; and an Indian named Sebastian Tarabal. Sebastian had been over much of the land to the north. A Baja California Indian, he had been sent to New California to help the mission fathers, but after a short time had run away from San Gabriel with his wife and a relative, and crossing the San Jacinto Mountains had struggled through the Borrego desert, and among the sand dunes near the Colorado River, where his wife and relative lost their lives, before reaching Yuma. From there Sebastian went to Tubac, arriving just in time to serve as a guide.
One other white man had ventured into the Borrego Desert, from the north. He was Pedro Fages, whom we remember from the Portola expedition. In 1772 he had descended Coyote Canyon in search of soldiers who had deserted from the San Diego Presidio, and finding no water, had cut back up into the mountains. But Anza knew nothing of this.
There were 34 persons altogether in Anza’s expedition, including Valdes, who knew the road from San Diego to Monterey; 35 pack loads of provisions, equipment, tobacco, carpenters tools, and other necessities; 65 cattle and 140 saddle animals. Unfortunately, 130 of the horses were stolen in an Indian raid before the expedition left, and this loss, plus fear of the Apaches in southwestern Arizona, caused them to take a considerable detour.
The royal flag of Spain fluttered in the breeze as the expedition began its march from Tubac on January 8th – its hoped-for goal, Monterey, a thousand miles away. They dropped down into the narrow strip of Mexico which runs along the southwestern border of Arizona to reach Caborca in the Altar Valley, a distance of about 150 miles, where they hoped to replace the mounts stolen by the Apaches. But drought and more Indian raids had depleted the available stock, and Anza obtained only a few mules which he described as mere “stacks of bones.” This was home for Fr. Diaz, as he had left the mission here to join the expedition. It was a country alive with memories of Spain’s diminishing greatness. Nearby was Mission Dolores, founded by Fr. Kino, and Magdalena Mission, where he had been buried sixty years before. The missions were old, many of them in ruins. Time already was dealing Spain out of the New World, but nobody fully realized it yet. A new adventure was still ahead. It was 600 miles from Caborca to New California. The trail from here led north 125 miles to the Sonoita River over a country first explored by Kino and Salvatierra, and traveled more recently by Garces, Tarabal and Anza himself.
Then began the worst part of the journey, to the Colorado River over Camino del Diablo, the Road of the Devil, which had held so many terrors for Spanish explorers for 200 years and which was to take the lives of scores of persons during the Gold Rush to California 75 years later. Water holes were a matter of life and death in the 100 miles between El Carrizallon the Sonoita River and Yuma. Many times in the rugged mountains they were saved from death by finding water in potholes or rock tanks, some of which hold thousands of gallons of water.
Upon reaching Yuma and the junction of the rivers, they were welcomed by Garces, old friend, the Yuman chief Palma; 600 Indians – men, women and children, mostly naked – joined in the task of helping them cross the Colorado River. Any hope of a straight crossing of the desert to the west toward the distant mountains had to be given up, in the face of the seemingly impassable barrier of the great sand dunes of the Imperial Valley. The expedition followed the river south to a place called Santa Olaya, a few miles west of the Colorado, where there was pasturage and fresh water. Here Anza decided to leave the river and strike west to the Cocopa range and then follow it north to the main sierra. But it was at this point that Garces’ memory of landmarks became confused, and an Indian guide, fearful of entering enemy territory, left them. But before doing so, he pointed to a mountain peak rising out of the flat desert far to the north. That, he said, should be their guiding beacon, and near there water could be found. This was Signal Mountain, west of Mexicali.
Signal Mountain became a beacon, which, however, seemed to keep receding as the weary pioneers fought to find a way through new masses of drifting sand dunes. The Spanish dubbed Signal Mountain Cerro del Imposible, or the Impossible Hill. Ten days were lost in hopeless wandering and finally they were forced to return to Santa Olaya. It was decided that many of the supplies would have to be left behind, and enough men and mules were released to carry them back to Yuma. A stripped-down expedition pushed still farther south to get around the dunes and then followed the base of the small Cocopa mountain range in northeast Baja California. Signal Mountain slowly began to loom larger on the horizon. Before reaching it, they sighted a gap in the Cocopas, now known as the Lower Pass, and through this they dropped down to the shore of a vast salt lake, Laguna Salada, and made camp near a marsh at its dry north end, which they called San Eusebio. On the banks of the lake they found stranded sea fish, indicating that the lake was filled and emptied by tidal action from the surging waters of the Gulf of California.
The next camp was at Santo Thomas in the Pinto Canyon along the road between Mexicali and Tijuana, and from there they crossed today’s International Line. Before them stretched the vast bed of a dead sea. Crushed bits of sea shells were everywhere, and old shore lines rippled across the dirty wastes of sand. It was a strange, upside down world sunk below the level of the oceans. The sand was on top and the water underneath. The ocean itself long since had retreated, and even at this time there was no trace left of the fresh water lake that once filled a large part of the desert in wetter ages. The Salton Sea had not yet been formed by a rampant Colorado River. But ahead, on the far hazy horizon, they could see the pass they had been seeking in weeks of walking and riding. Where distant mountain groups came together to the north of Borrego Valley there was a giant cleft or rift which indicated a passable canyon. This was the same pass which Garces had sighted two and a half years before. Their first camp in California was made just over the border from a place where scouts captured some Indians and learned of nearby wells. The wells, in a wash in Imperial Valley about four miles north of the border and about seven miles south of Plaster City in the vicinity of the present Yuha Springs, were named Santa Rosa of the Flat Rocks. A motorist can almost see the spot from Highway 98, which cuts off from Highway 80 at InKoPah Gorge and runs to Calexico and Mexicali.
Anza’s detailed diaries, now in the National Archives of Mexico, under the date of March 8th, tell of this event:
“At seven o’clock in the morning we took up the march over good country towards the northeast, and having gone about a league and a quarter. we reached the wells mentioned, and when they were opened they poured forth an abundance of the finest water. We called them Santa Rosa de las Lajas.
“Because there was some pasturage in this place and our riding animals had become badly worn out, I decided to stop here for the day. These wells are in such a location that in two convenient journeys we might have come to them from the Laguna de Santa Olaya. Indeed, the two places cannot be more than eighteen leagues apart, but traveling through unknown country inevitably involves these detours. Notwithstanding the one which we have made, we celebrated our arrival at this place, because from it the California Indian has recognized that he is now near a place where he formerly was, and therefore we now promise ourselves that our expedition will not fail.” [for more, see “De Anza Diary” under Translations]
Sebastian had struggled through here on his way to the Colorado River. Though the Anza and Borrego deserts still lay ahead, they knew the worst was over. Anza writes that they had traveled 197 leagues, or 591 miles, in the two months since leaving Tubac.
White men were to cross into San Diego County, from northeast of the desert country, for the first time, and there Anza was to demonstrate his skill as a diplomat in establishing peace between warring Indian tribes.
They left the pleasant wells Wednesday afternoon and camped that night in a thin pasturage about four or five miles north of today’s Plaster City. Thursday was a big day. Leaving at dawn, they kept the high mountain chain to their left, passing the volcanic Superstition Mountain and the mudstone and sandstone of Superstition Hills on their right, and, punching through more sand dunes, they reached a watering place which Anza named San Sebastian, alias del Peregrino, in honor of the wanderings of the Indian Sebastian. It was a large marsh with a small lake and a well of fresh water on San Felipe Creek near its junction with Carrizo Creek, and near a spot now identified as Harper’s Well, lying more than 160 feet below sea level. It is directly west of Highway 99, about three miles from Kane Spring and south of Highway 78 running from Highway 99 to Borrego Valley, from which it can be seen.
“At daybreak we took the same direction, toward the north, and at seven o’clock we began to cross some little points of sand dunes which extend for about half a league. At the beginning of them most of the soldiers dismounted, agreeing among themselves to make most of the following journeys on foot, in order that they might not lack mounts on which to carry their saddles and other necessary things. Having traveled seven leagues, at one o’clock in the afternoon we reached the watering place … This place is a very large marsh with many waters and much pasturage, but both are very salty, except for one spring where we are, which is fair sized and running. Here we found a small village of mountain Indians who took flight, abandoning all their little possessions, which I did not permit anyone to touch. I had the native of California, our guide from here forward, go to overtake someone. He went after them and brought a woman to my presence, and I gave her beads and tobacco, telling her that she could call her friends, with assurance that no harm would be done them and that it would be good for them to accept our gifts. She did so, and at three o’clock in the afternoon seven men came, although with much perturbation, and I gave them the usual presents … After nightfall many more of these heathen assembled, and I made them embrace two Yumas who voluntarily have come with me. They have been continually at war, but I gave them to understand that war was ceasing from this day, as the nations farther back had been informed. This news caused them great rejoicing, and they celebrated it by breaking the few arrows which they were carrying. At the same time they promised that they would comply with my precept, never more going to the Colorado River for war, but only to visit, since now the two Yumas were their friends. Before this, however, they informed me by signs, that solely on seeing tracks of the Yumas they were going to cut off their heads, although they were in our company. They were now so completely relieved of their terror that this night they camped with their rivals, and regaled each other with such miserable possessions as these people customarily have.”
Garces was moved emotionally by the numbers of the Indians who obviously needed instruction and conversion:
“Oh, what a vast heathendom! Oh, what lands so suitable for missions! Oh! What a heathendom so docile! How fine it would be if the wise and pious Don Carlos III might see these lands! And oh, if at least we might bring it about that one who so worthily governs these kingdoms might see these provinces . . .” [for more, see “Father Garces’ Diary” under Translations]
Little progress was made the next day, because of a late start, and they camped still in the same marshes in the area of San Sebastian, where the pasturage proved so salty that the animals were made sick. Too, the pasturage was so soggy some of the animals became mired and almost were lost. Here they received the first definite word of the port of San Diego. In answer to questions, Indians indicated to Anza that “the sea must be distant three days’ journey, and from the direction in which they pointed we inferred that it was the Philippine Ocean. They also gave me to understand that in five or six days’ journey some relatives of theirs who lived near them came to some people like ourselves. We are convinced that they must be those who live at the port of San Diego.” From their answers, however, Anza erroneously concluded that San Diego must be somewhere near the mouth of the Colorado River where it empties into the Gulf of California.
Saturday took them into Borrego Valley, where the territories of a number of Indian tribes came together. The Spanish first met two Yuman speaking groups, the Kamia and the Northern Diegueno, in the San Felipe Creek area. At that time the Kamia held the territory near where the creek emptied into the Salton Sea and the Northern Dieguenos held the rest. The Cahuillas, who were Shoshoneans, occupied the northern part of Borrego Valley. The Desert Cahuillas were settled around the northern shore of the present Salton Sea and extended west into Borrego Park and around Travertine Wash. The Mountain Cahuilla were in the western section, in the drainage area of Coyote Canyon and Clark Valley.
To enter Borrego the Spaniards cut north from the present route of Highway 78, where it crosses San Felipe Creek four miles east of Ocotillo, and following the creek they rounded Borrego Mountain and camped near the alkali sink to the west of it just below the grim, uninviting Borrego badlands. A small monument today marks the spot, but it is considerably off the traveled road. The spring that Anza found has long since dried up. The Indians living there were found to be exceptionally timid. Among them the Indian Sebastian found some who spoke the San Diego idiom, “which seems to confirm the opinion which has been formed that this port is not very far away.”
The land was lifting now, and so were their spirits. Anza wrote:
“An hour before dawn we set forth west-northwest, toward a large valley formed by another sierra. and the one which we have had on our left since leaving Santo Thomas. Having traveled over good terrain about six leagues, we arrived at a little water which was running slightly and of good quality, with better pasturage than any which has been seen since we left the Pimeria. This place I named San Gregorio. When we arrived we discovered more than sixty heathen who were hunting. I made an effort to have some of them come to where we were encamped, sending the Californian to bring them, but just as he arrived with them near to where I was, our pack mules and relay saddle animals also arrived. Scenting the water they began to bray according to their custom, whereupon our much-sought heathen made precipitate flight. While among them the Californian observed that they spoke the language of San Diego. Our animals reached this place in the most deplorable state that can be imagined, because of the bad pasturage of San Sebastian, as has been said, and for this reason I decided not to travel tomorrow.”
Garces’ diary notes that the Indians seemed to “eat a great quantity of wild onions, which abound in these parts.”
Sunday was a day of rest. From the little watering hole 500 feet above sea level they could look west across the flat valley to the bleak, sharp but beautiful San Ysidro mountains, which rise so abruptly from the valley floor. Pink by day and somber velvet by night, they seem an impenetrable barrier between the harshness of the desert and the greenness of the sloping hills and valleys. To the northeast were the Santa Rosa mountains. Between the two ranges was Coyote Canyon. Green fields now spread across the open wastes of yesterday. In the fitful shadows of tropical nights, with the gentle wind stirring the palms and citrus trees, one can almost see the ghosts of Anza’s men as they ride the old trails of generations of people long since passed from the scene.
After their day of rest, they again set forth toward the north, crossing the area of the present airport, grape fields and orchards, and turning into Coyote Canyon, the pass which held so much hope.
“A little before daybreak we set forth toward the north, and having traveled about six leagues through various valleys with reasonable footing, we arrived at a spring or fountain of the finest water, which runs for about two leagues, having many willows most of the way. At its head, we halted for the night, and to the place I gave the name of Santa Catarina. Here we found much grass and other green plants, as well as wild vines and trees, which announce an improvement in the country from here forward.”
The springs, almost tropical in richness, can be found on the maps as Santa Catarina Springs, or Lower Willows, at the entrance to Collins Valley in Coyote Canyon. The wise Anza saw the bubbling water, and, suspecting perhaps the deep reservoir that lay below the entire land, suggested in his diary the possibility of irrigation and “judging from the humidity in the land here, some seasonal crops might be planted.” They found the Indians in the canyon more degenerate and cowardly than heretofore, without arms, and fleeing in panic at the whinnying of a horse. The Yuma tribes called these Indians the “sandal wearers.” The idiom which they used suggested close ties with the Indians of the San Diego and San Gabriel Missions.
The next morning the expedition set forth up the arroyo,
“which runs north-northwest, dividing the large mountain chain through which it flows. The floor of the valley is very even and of considerable width for four leagues, where in various places running water is found. Two more leagues were traveled where the valley is narrower, and then, leaving it at the left, we climbed a ridge which did not cause the animals the greatest fatigue, and at whose crest we camped for the night in a place of good pasturage and water. Right here there is a pass which I named the Royal Pass of San Carlos. From it are seen the most beautiful green and flower-strewn prairies, and snow-covered mountains with pines, oaks, and other trees which grow in cold countries. Likewise here the waters divide, some flowing this way toward the Gulf and others toward the Philippine Ocean. It is now proved that the sierra in which we are traveling connects with the sierras of Lower California. In the course of the journey made today we have seen an improvement in the country in every way, and have concluded from its moisture that it may be suitable for seasonal crops and the planting of fruit trees, and that there are pastures sufficient for maintaining cattle.”
San Carlos Pass is at an elevation of 1880 feet and well inside the Riverside county line. The Indians in this region appeared to be scrawny and excitable, more given to stealing than those in the lower deserts, and to delivering long harangues with violent movements of their hands and feet. Anza dubbed them The Dancers, but later the cynical Font said they were jumping around like wild goats. Rain and snow slowed their progress so that they were unable to get under way until the afternoon of the next day, when they climbed some small hills where a fair-sized vein of silver ore was found, reached the summit of the divide, and descended a slope into Valle del Principe to camp on the shores of a lake. This is now called Dry Lake in Terwilliger Valley, a part of Cahuilla Valley in southern Riverside County.
In one week they had crossed over sections of Imperial and San Diego counties, rising from the heat of deserts lying below sea level, to the moist climate of mountain passes. Three days of rain and snow slowed their progress across the San Jacinto mountains. Then they dropped down into San Jacinto Valley, passed through areas now named Moreno, Riverside, Ontario and San Dimas, and finally swerved westward to San Gabriel Mission, arriving on March 22nd.
The geographical isolation of far-off California had been broken, or at least so they all thought. Though Fr. Paterna was happy to see the arrival of the expedition, the poor mission at San Gabriel did not have enough food to resupply Anza and enable him to push right on to Monterey. Word was received that a supply ship with Fr. Serra aboard had arrived at San Diego from Mexico, and it was decided to send Garces and a pack train to the port. Serra returned with Garces to San Gabriel. Anza was disappointed to find that the provisions they had brought from San Diego were inadequate, and that there were no replacements for their saddle animals. Anza and four soldiers, with two men from the mission to show the way, went on to Monterey while the others returned to Yuma. Garces made the joumey to Santa Olaya in eleven days by a new and shorter route. Anza, on his return trip from Monterey, followed Garc6s’ trail by notes left here and there on the route, and at Yuma followed the Gila River, cutting across Gila Bend to Casa Grande, then turning south to Tubac. This proved to be a shorter and much better route than the deadly road to Sonoita.
Anza arrived back at Tubac on May 26th, after an absence of four and a half months and a ride of approximately 2,200 miles. There was a great rejoicing in Mexico City. Bucareli was convinced of the practicality of the route. He promoted Anza to the rank of lieutenant colonel of cavalry and gave bonuses to the seventeen soldiers who had accompanied him. Bucareli wrote that “his presence, good judgment and talents, which I have now seen close at hand, have confirmed me in the opinion which I have had of him ever since the time when he proposed the exploration.” The Franciscans were delighted.
Return to Books.
Ch. 1. Before the Explorers
Ch. 2. The Early Explorers
Ch. 3. The Story of Cabrillo
Ch. 4. The First to Arrive
Ch. 5. Sebastian Vizcaino
Ch. 6. Padres Lead the Way
Ch. 7. Fray Junipero Serra
Ch. 8. Expeditions by Sea
Ch. 9. Expeditions by Land
Ch. 10. Portola Goes North
Ch. 11. The Cross is Raised
Ch. 12. Anza Finds the Way
Ch. 13. Settlement at Last
1. Historiae Verdadera of Bernal Diaz del Castillo
2. Relation of the Voyage of Cabrillo
3. Informacion of 1560
4. Father Ascension’s Account of the Voyage of Sebastian Vizcaino
5. Diary of Sebastian Vizcaino
6. Palou’s Historical Memoirs of New California
7. Costanso’s Narrative of the Portola Expedition
8. Diary of Vicente Vila
9. Diary of Junipero Serra, Loreto to San Diego, March 28-July 1, 1769
10. Diary of Don Gaspar de Portola
11. De Anza Diary
12. Father Garces’ Diary
13. Record of Voyage by Francisco de Ulloa