Spanish Explorers 1774–1808


Map Code: Ax00696

Spanish explorers were accustomed to finding new trails across difficult terrain, as they accompanied padres to their missions and established cordial relations with the Native Americans, whose lands had to be crossed to reach Spanish settlements. The Spanish also wanted to enlist the help of Native American tribes in obstructing the American westward ingress into Spanish-held land. Several Spanish explorers are of significant historical importance, such as Captain Juan Bautista de Anza who, in 1774, established an overland trail from Tubac, Arizona, to San Gabriel and Monterey in California. Reaching the Spanish settlements in California meant crossing treacherous terrain and the Californian settlements may well have been abandoned if easier, alternative trails were not found. Anza found an overland trail which opened California to hundreds of settlers. Another trailblazer was Pedro Vial who established trails connecting the Spanish and French settlements of Texas, New Mexico, Missouri and Louisiana.

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