On the Spanish Trail

OHV use at Carnegie SVRA next to Tesla Park has caused severe environmental damage to the land. Carnegie SVRA is operating in violation of the Public Resources Code (Click on photo to start and end slide show)

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By Dan L. Mosier

The Spanish trail known as ââ?¬Å?El Camino Viejo a Los Angeles, here
� or the Old Road to Los Angeles, order runs through Tesla Park.

This road began at Rancho San Antonio (now Oakland), which was granted to Don Luis Maria Peralta in 1820. The road headed south along the MacArthur and Mission boulevards to Mission San Jose, where the road turned and climbed over Mission Pass and descended into Sunol Valley. From there it followed the present route of Vallecitos Road (Hwy 84) to the Livermore Valley and made its way over to Tesla Road. The road continued eastward into Arroyo Seco, climbed over Corral Hollow Pass, and descended into Corral Hollow Canyon at Tesla Park. The road followed Corral Hollow Creek to the San Joaquin Valley and immediately turned south to follow the foothills on the west side of Interstate 5. Continuing down the west side of the valley, the road climbed over the Tehachapi and Santa Susana mountains and descended into Los Angeles, where it terminated at San Pedro Bay.

Ox-driven carreta at Mission Sonoma State Park

El Camino Viejo was one of the major inland roads used by the Spaniards after their arrival in California in 1769.Ã?  Junipero Serra established missions at San Francisco in 1776, Santa Clara in 1777, and San Jose in 1797, among the chain of 21 missions that were built.Ã?  El Camino Viejo was used by mission soldiers to march their Native American captives from the central region of California to Mission San Jose and other nearby missions.Ã?  ââ?¬Å?In what Spain hoped to accomplish,ââ?¬Â wrote Richard F. Pourade in The History of San Diego, The Explorers, ââ?¬Å?the missionaries were to be the shock troops, the spearheads for the advance of civilization and Christianity, and from the first they concerned themselves with the conditions of the Indians.ââ?¬Â To colonize the new land, the Spaniards needed the native populations to help produce raw materials and construct new towns.Ã?  This meant an end to the way of life of the native peoples, who were forced to live in the missions, become Christians, and be regulated by the orders of the Spanish officials.

Mission San Jose was one of most productive among the missions in crops and livestock. Its population reached 1,877 by 1831. But diseases brought over by the Europeans killed many of the native peoples living in the missions. Those who were strong enough, escaped to the nearby mountains, and encampments were made in hidden valleys far away from El Camino Viejo. However, Spanish soldiers came after them and their meetings often ended in deadly skirmishes or forced return back to the missions along the old Spanish road.

During this time at Tesla Park, wild mustangs roaming the valley were captured and held in corrals in the mouth of Corral Hollow before they were driven over El Camino Viejo down to San Pedro landing to be transported to Mexico. Along with an occasional ox-driven carreta traveling El Camino Viejo, the old road was used by vaqueros to drive cattle and sheep from the grazing land of Rancho el Valle de San Jose (Amador-Livermore Valley) and beyond to Mission San Jose.

By the 1820s, the Spanish missions were on the decline along with the decreasing native population. The Mexican revolt ended Spanish rule in 1822. Mission properties were divided into ranchos and sold to individuals. Spanish and Mexican families became Californians under a Mexican government that ruled for the next 25 years.

While El Camino Viejo passed through Tesla Park, the Corral Hollow Canyon had another Spanish name.Ã?  Anyone who has traveled through Corral Hollow is familiar with the strong winds that frequently blow through the canyon. It was during the Spanish period that Corral Hollow also became known as ââ?¬Å?Arroyo de los Buenos Airesââ?¬Â (Canyon of the Good Winds) and ââ?¬Å?Portezuela de Buenos Airesââ?¬Â (Pass of Good Winds).

Come back to follow local historian Dan Mosier�s ongoing series on the history of Corral Hollow and the Tesla Park land. The diversity of its history is another reason to protect and preserve this special public land.