||This article is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (August 2008)|
Street in town
|State||Baja California Sur|
|Elevation||52 ft (16 m)|
|Time zone||Pacific (US Mountain) (UTC-7)|
|• Summer (DST)||Pacific (UTC-6)|
Mulegé is an oasis town in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, situated at the mouth of the Río de Santa Rosalía. It is the fourth-largest community in Mulegé Municipality. It had a population of 3,821 according to the Mexican federal census of 2010.
Indigenous peoples had lived in this area for thousands of years due to the abundance of water in the river valley. In 1702, Jesuit Father Juan Maria de Salvatierra identified the valley of today's Mulegé as a place for a mission to the Indians. It was not until 1754 that Father Francisco Escalante started the construction of the mission. Years later many other Jesuit fathers came into today's area of Mulegé to bring the Catholic faith and convert the natives to Catholicism.
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The official name of the town is "Heroica Mulegé." This title is based on incidents during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. The Americans tried to occupy long stretches of the Pacific coast such as California, Baja California, and New Mexico, all of which were then part of Mexico. The people of Mulegé and surrounding settlements along the Pacific coastline defeated the Americans. As a result Mulegé was not occupied and was rewarded the official title "Heroica Mulegé" by the national legislature. In the 21st century, official letters of the Government of Baja California Sur retain use of the title, "Heroica Mulegé."
Tourist Spots / Attractions
- The Mission, founded in 1705, is one of the most famous attractions in Mulegé. It is located high above the river, overlooking the entire river valley.
- The caves in the 'Sierra de Guadalupe' near Mulegé with extensive ancient cave paintings are worth a visit, as are the caves in the 'Sierra de San Borjita' and La Trinidad.
- A special feature of the town is the old prison. It was erected without bars. The prisoners could freely walk around town and establish or maintain families here. They just had to return to the prison in the evening. Escapes were rare because of the remoteness of Mulegé. Until Mex 1 was paved, the area was surrounded by harsh desert for many miles. All prisoners had to agree to assist in tracking any escapist and assist in their capture. Today, the old prison is operated as a museum, with a suggested nominal entry fee.
Mulegé is internationally famous for its rich fishing grounds in the Gulf of California. A warm current from the southern and a cold current from the northern Pacific come together in the Mulegé area of the Gulf of California and encourage a great variety of different fish species. The Gulf is sometimes known as the "Sea of Cortez", after the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés who sailed into the area.
In the past Mulegé made its living mostly from fishing and from farming. Today tourism is a major income source for Mulegé. Some come for the area's deep sea fishing. Kayaking, cave tours and bird watching, and fishing, with or without charters to catch a big game fish, are popular attractions.
Today's tourism industry in Mulegé is based on the fact that in 1976 the Highway MX 1 - a paved road - was constructed and Mulegé became easily accessible by land. A trip from the US border to Mulegé takes no more than 12 hours today. Before the highway was constructed, such a trip could take four days.
The area has suffered damage in Hurricane John in 2006, Tropical Storm Julio in 2008, Hurricane Jimena in 2009, Hurricane Paul in 2012 and Hurricane Odile in 2014. All five hurricanes created major precipitation followed by high floods. All over the Mulege area, from the Pacific to the Gulf of California, rainfall and floods were devastating. Mulege was flooded by over 20 feet of water at the highway bridge and by 6 feet in the upper regions of town. Many homes located in the river valley were washed into the Gulf of California. Clean-up was still being done in January, 2015.
Climate and agriculture
The entire peninsula of Baja California is an area with one of the lowest precipitation rates in the world. Rain is rare but usually occurs between December and March, and hurricanes are occasionally a major threat to the Mulegé area. There is a saying in Baja California: "It never rains in Baja, but if it rains, it pours."
Due to fertile soil and a rich water supply in the Mulegé river valley, irrigation has supported agriculture in this area as a strong part of the economy, unlike other areas of Baja California. Tropical fruits are cultivated, including oranges, bananas, limes and mangoes.
By land, Mulegé is accessible by Federal Highway 1, which runs from Tijuana at the US-MX border to Cabo San Lucas. The highway was built in 1975/76. Before that, Mulegé was only accessible via dirt road leading from Tijuana at the U.S. border to Cabo San Lucas at the southernmost point of Baja California Sur. The trip took about four days by car or truck, leading through extensive lava fields with lava rocks, which often caused blown tires. Mulegé was also accessible by private aircraft, and of course by sea.
Since the mid-1950s, Mulegé and other towns on the peninsula, have been destinations for tourists with private planes. Celebrities such as American actor John Wayne have visited Mulegé. Younger Americans were attracted to the area because Mexico did not regulate alcohol and they could drink on the beach or town streets.
The northern part of the Baja peninsula consists mostly of lava rocks. They have been crushed to smaller size and used to pave many streets. In the southern part - South of 'CD Constitucion' - the land consists more of sand and gravel. NOTE: The northern part of the peninsular is named officially 'Baja California' while the southern part is named 'Baja California Sur'. Each is a separate Mexican states.
Mulegé is served by three airstrips in the area, which are used for private air travel. Extra caution is advised when using this airstrip, as dogs and other animals as well as Mexican citizens are frequently crossing the strip. Also at high tide, the strip can be very muddy or even submerged. The strip is located a short distance from the Gulf of California, more or less at sea level Mulegé Municipal, and the farthest Punta San Pedro (at Concepcion Bay). Regional flights are available at the Palo Verde Airport (to the north of town), and international flights are available at the Loreto Airport (123 km to the south).
Mulegé Municipality reaches from Guerrero Negro about 250 KM (156 mls) north of Mulegé to about 60 KM (40mls) south of Mulegé. The municipal seat is Santa Rosalia, which also had a Spanish mission in the 18th century.
The mission in Mulegé is named 'Misión de Santa Rosalía'. The mission in Santa Rosalia is named 'Santa Bárbara'.
The river is officially named 'Río de Santa Rosalía, but usually called 'Río Mulegé.' There is no river in Santa Rosalia.
- 2010 census tables: INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografia e Informática
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