What is a historical corridor?
"... it is a historically meaningful route throughout which people or goods have been moved; where evidence exists that the natural environment has been modified by human beings. It is a linear cultural landscape that combines cultural values with the natural ones" (Cameron, 1996:5).BR>
Over time humans have traveled from one place to other for many ends, for example to make a living, to exploit natural resources, to carry or bring messages or to visit certain places. We know that from the beginning, societies have tended to create land routes for the movement of goods or individuals, as well as the use of natural routes as well as aquatic ones (rivers, coasts, narrows, lakes). If we examine the prehispanic era in Baja California, the indigenous communities created a network of trails over hundreds of years. These extensive routes covered the length and width of the peninsula; and, of course, connected it with California, Arizona and Sonora. This trail network represented the communication and the movement of many different peoples and languages through the millennia. (Ibid).

The Persians, the Romans and the Spanish created vast roads. In Spain these paths were designated royal roads and they were routes that communicated to the different regions governed by the crown, and at the same time were under the protection of the army.

During and after the conquest roads were constructed in New Spain that received the same designation. Crosby cites a letter written by Padre Joseph Echeverria, February 10, 1730, to the marquis of Villapuente in which he says to him that with respect to roads --roads that they were actually passable-- in California in only thirty-four years more progress had been accomplished from the beginning of the conquest than in Spain during the preceding two centuries. (Crosby, 1974:48). Because of this it is important that the public knows that the historical corredor "Royal Missionary Road of the Californias" emerges with the establishment of the Mission Nuestra Senora de Loreto in 1697. The corridor continued southward to the region of Los Cabos, and northward crossing the present border with the United States, until arriving what currently is Sonoma, California.
The Jesuit need for roads was apparent as soon as they consolidated their first religious center (the Mission of Our Lady of Loreto), and began to travel to convert bordering indigenous communities. The first written consignment document to build the road was in 1698; and in 1699 a road crossing the Sierra Gigantia westward to establish the Mission of San Francisco Javier de Biaund—. From this beginning the road was extended with the establishment of each mission northward and southward.

The character of the royal road during its use was that of a route build carefully along the peninsula that adapted to certain demands and limitations. In summary, these requirements were that the roads connected the mission centers and water sources, and crossed lands that would be accessible, that is to say, as few obstacles as possible (Ibid, pp. 1-9).

The historic corridor is a model for conservation
One of the goals of the concept of the historic corridor is the conservation of the historical resources, both natural and cultural that exist along its length; these are aspects that give it a special character. The composite is more than the isolated parts, as it includes the mission sites, peoples, ancient structures, archaeological sites, and important ecological zones. That is to say, a historic corridor includes individual components that enrich it profoundly.

It is important to indicate that the historic corridor concept lends itself to cultural tourism, because this class of tourism involves a segment of the public traveler that seeks to establish contact with his own ancestry or with those of other regions or countries (Sáchez, 1989:25-27).

Who develops the historic corridor?
During the past several years, similar work has been done by in each region. The State Historical Preservation Office of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, USA, has been working actively to establish links among California and the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. In addition, in the meetings of the Commission of the Californias, for example, the need for conservation of the missions throughout the route has been repeatedly addressed.

The Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) has responded to these initiatives. Together with a group of widely-ranging interests, and the Parks and Recreation Department of the State of California, a strategy has been designed to consolidate the Historic Corridor project. The plan contains initiatives for resource conservation, interpretation, utilization, as well as the continuous strengthening of the relationships of lasting and solid work.

Our first steps
In the beginning of 1995 there were meetings among the tourism authorities concerning the need for conservation of the cultural patrimony of both sides of the frontier. INAH and the Parks and Recreation Department identified short, medium and long term goals including the training of a binational work team. Thus, during the 27 and 28th of July of the same year, a group of participants representing the three governments in addition to various universities and private organizations were gathered in Tijuana, Ensenada and the city of San Diego, California to initiate the projects guided toward the establishment of a preliminary design of organization of the scope of the historic corridor.

The following plan has emerged from an extensive discussion of objectives, commitments and technical needs related to the resources of the historic corridor. As a preliminary step, the plan will consist of:

  1. Resource identification and investigation
  2. Conservation and site restoration, natural and cultural patrimony
  3. Inventory of involved groups
  4. Academic involvement in the project
  5. Public education for site preservation
  6. Marketing
  7. Planning
  8. Protocol

Preparation of a preliminary management plan has begun among all the participants and institutions. The goal is to have that plan concluded for October of 1997, the 300th Anniversary of the establishment of the corridor.

At the same time as the preliminary planning, very important ongoing work on the "Conservation of the mission sites of the peninsula"; and the "integral Project of the conservation of the cultural patrimony of the valley of Loreto; and the project of the" Commemoration of 300 years of the foundation of the Mission of Our Lady of Loreto ".

What are the benefits
We believe that a project of this nature underlines the urgent need of preserving the outstanding patrimony of our region. Because of this we emphasize the following concrete benefits:

  1. To preserve the cultural patrimony of the corridor.
  2. To encourage the study of the mission period, as well as to document its effect on the natural resources and culture of the era, and to promote the preservation of the natural and historical resources that survive.
  3. To seek a better comprehension on the aboriginal societies that inhabited the Californias, that suffered the changes from euromexican culture, as well as the surviving communities, seeking also to stimulate the work and the welfare of the present indigenous societies in the Californias of the present time.
  4. To promote the economic growth at the local level, as well as to stimulate the community development, and at the same time to promote national and international cultural tourism that is sensitive to conservation.
  5. To initiate an investment program in the historic corridor.
  6. To encourage and to strengthen the formal ties with California concerning the preservation of cultural resources and the natural setting.

We form part of the project
- Gobierno del estado de Baja Califomia - Secretaria de Medio Ambiente, Resursos Naturales y Pesca - Universidad Autoónoma de Baja California - El Colegio de la Frontera Norte - Centro Cultural Tijuana - Municipio de Tijuana - Municipio de Ensenada - Secretaría de Turismo del Estado - Scretaría de Educación y bienestar Social - Instituto de Cultura de Baja Califomia - Unidos por Tijuana, A.C - Sociedad de Historia de Rosarito - Comité Rescate Misional de Ensenada - Oficina de Preservación Histórica del Depanamento de Parques y Recreación de California - Consulado de México en San Diego - Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

Together we will develop plans and strategies to long, medium and short term, to protect, restore, document or study and promote the historical resources, cultural and natural of the corridor.

We have fixed a course for our project, and that course requires work in equipment of the different sectors of government, as well as of the private sector.

We have begun and, without doubt, there will be many who will participate.

Origin of the three Californias
The historical corridor

" Royal missionary road "
A diversity of cultures
united by a same past

"A course... a goal "

CAMERON, Christina," The Challenges of Historic Corridors", in CRM, Vol 16., No. 1, 1996.

CROSBY, Harry, The King's Highway in Baja California. Copley Books, 1974.
, "El Camino Real in Baja California: Loreto to San Diego". Journal of San Diego History, Vol. 23., 1977.

SANCHEZ, Mario, "Establishing an Historic Corridor from Laredo to Brownsville: An Approach for the Development of Cultural Tourism Along the Texas-Mexico Border". Presentado en Third Regional Conference of the U S / México Border States in Parks and Wildlile. Mc Allen, Texas, del 25 al 27 de octubre, 1989.

Text by: Julia Bendímez Patterson and Susanne Guerra
Edited by: Luz Mercedes Lopez Barrera

English translation by: John W. Foster