In 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza marched 240 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle from Nogales, Arizona, all the way to San Francisco.
The viceroy of New Spain wanted to establish an overland route to California, to increase the Spanish presence in the region and create a protected harbor for Spanish ships.
He directed Anza to chart the 1,200-mile route, and then return to Arizona to guide a group of 30 families, including soldiers, their wives, and children, to San Francisco.
Along the way, the group crossed the Colorado River and endured a harsh winter. They experienced an earthquake. They saw crude oil bubbling from the ground. Several of the women gave birth. It was a memorable journey.
You can follow their route along Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
The trail crosses 19 counties in Arizona and Southern California. It encompasses eight National Park Service sites, including the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Channel Islands National Park, John Muir National Historic Site, and the Presidio, the site selected by Anza for the construction of a fort to protect Spanish ships entering San Francisco Bay.