The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1977, Volume 23, Number 1
James E. Moss, Editor
Thomas L. Scharf, Assistant Editor

El Camino Real in Baja California: Loreto to San Diego | Mapping El Camino Real  | Road Building in Antigua California
By Harry Crosby

Images from the article | Maps from the article

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Entering El Infierno

Page 1. Entering El Infierno (between Carrizito and Santa Marta, Map 4) The bizarre regional botany of Baja California is well represented by torote (Bursera microphylla) left, and cardón (Pachycereus pringlei), right, flanking a well-worn piece of El Camino Real.

El Infierno

Page 3. El Infierno (between Carrizito and Santa Marta, Map 4) The old mission trail had to traverse a number of rocky gorges of which El Infierno emerges from the literature as perhaps the most infamous.

The Cuesta del Tagualila

Page 4. Near El Rosarito (Map 4) The sections of El Camino Real crossing mesas (above) are generally the best preserved. Their essentially horizontal beds do not collect or carry torrents of water as do those on slopes or in arroyos.

Llano de San Gregorio

Page 5. Looking south across the Llano de San Gregorio (Map 4) This great level area (right), part of which is a sump or sink, preserves one of the most impressively wide stretches of rock lined thoroughfare. (Visible at middle center of photograph)

Page 7. The Cuesta del Tagualila (between Llano de San Gregorio and San Juan de las Parras, Map 4) The rocks cleared from the grade were piled along its edges. Water erosion exposed more rocks which were removed and piled. This process was repeated until high walls flanked the trail and only stopped when bedrock was reached.

Agua del Ganado

Page 8. Agua del Ganado (in Arroyo Santa Gertrudis about nine or ten kilometers southeast of the mission pueblo, Map 4) These tinajas or water catchments were vital to travel on El Camino Real. The people who used the road during mission times knew all these sources and headed for Alta California with little danger, but many unguided gold seekers in 1849 lost their lives in this area because they could not find water.

El Gentil

Page 10. El Gentil “The plain of the heathen Indian,” a name dating from before the founding of nearby Mission San Borja in 1762 (six kilometers south of the mission, Map 5). When the terrain permitted, the Jesuits staked out surveyor-straight trails, a characteristic which distinguishes them from most subsequent constructions.

Cuesta del Gentil

Page 13. Cuesta del Gentil (six kilometers south of Mission San Borja) The carefully made switch back grade reinforced with massive walls of dry laid fragments of lava can be seen faintly in the photograph. Such constructions permitted loaded animals to traverse steep slopes at an easy gradient. Many are still in use, occasionally patched by Baja Californians of post-mission times. As a rule these cuestas are strikingly visible in aerial photographs.