El Camino Viejo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

El Camino Viejo a Los Ángeles (English: the old road to Los Angeles), also known as the Old Los Angeles Trail, well established by the 1820s, was the oldest north-south trail in the interior of Alta California. From San Pedro, the road traversed the Transverse Ranges and the entire length of the San Joaquin Valley skirting the eastern slope of the Coast Range foothills following a route between Aguaje (watering places) and Arroyos (creeks). It finally passed out of the valley to the west through Corral Hollow Canyon southwest of Tracy crossing over Corral Hollow Pass into the Livermore Valley and beyond to terminate at the Oakland Estuary on the Rancho San Antonio, now East Oakland.[1][2]


The route of El Camino Viejo was well established by the 1820s, and according to Frank F. Latta, the route was in use by Spanish "carretas" (ox carts) as early as 1780,[3] as a more direct route than El Camino Real to the recently established Mission Santa Clara de Asís and Mission San Francisco de Asís. At that time the road ran from the mouth of Arroyo Las Positas southwest across the mouth of the Arroyo Mocho and Arroyo del Valle to Arroyo de la Laguna (later the lands of Rancho Valle de San Jose) and following it south down to its confluence with Arroyo de la Alameda (later location of Sunol). It then crossed the hills to the south via Mission Pass to the coastal plain and on until it reached Mission Santa Clara and the El Camino Real.

Later, after the 1797 foundation of the Mission San José, the road was turned northward from there, crossing Arroyo de San Leandro and Arroyo de San Lorenzo to the anchorage in what is now the Oakland Estuary. There cargos could be ferried across to the Mission and Presidio of San Francisco or to other places on the bay more quickly and in more quantity than carriage by road.[4]

This route along the unsettled frontier of Alta California came to be favored by those who wished to avoid the eyes of the Spanish authorities along the settled coast route of El Camino Real.[5] Settlements like las Juntas and Rancho Centinela, (founded in 1810), and later Poso de Chane and others began to grow up along the route of The Old Road. Later Californio vaqueros made "El Camino Viejo" a well-known trail that connected Rancho San Antonio with Los Angeles. It was along this trail that these vaqueros ran cattle and in the 1840s began establishing Ranchos at water sources along the route. Californio mesteñeros (wild horse catchers) also moved into the valley to catch the mesteños that now roamed the plains in the thousands and held them in temporary corrals before herding them up over passes in the Diablo Range to the coast or up the trail into the Bay area or down the trail to Southern California or on to other parts of Mexico.

With the California Gold Rush a shortcut developed for the north end of El Camino Viejo. It lay between San Lorenzo Creek, and ran through the Castro Valley, across the hills to the east, to the Rancho San Ramon and Amador and on to Livermore's, as part of the Oakland to Stockton Road used by stagecoaches and teamsters.

Route of El Camino Viejo[edit]

Alameda County[edit]

San Joaquin County[edit]

Stanislaus County[edit]

Merced County[edit]

Fresno County[edit]

Kings County[edit]

Kern County[edit]

Los Angeles County[edit]

Eastern Route of El Camino Viejo[edit]

Fresno County[edit]

Arroyo de Panoche Grande (northern junction of El Camino Viejo with its Eastern Route)

Kings County[edit]

Kern County[edit]

Kern County[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William N. Abeloe, Mildred Brooke Hoover, H. E. Rensch, E. G. Rensch, Historic spots in California, 3rd Edition, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1966; pp.89, 95, 128, 137, 191, 202, 377, 539
  2. ^ Mildred Brooke Hoover, Douglas E. Kyle, Historic spots in California, 5th Edition, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2002, pp. 89, 132, 211-212, 378, 517
  3. ^ Frank Forrest Latta, Saga of Rancho El Tejon, Bear State Books, Exeter, California, 2006, p.65
  4. ^ Earle E. Williams, Tales of Old San Joaquin City, San Joaquin Historian, Published Quarterly, By San Joaquin County Historical Society, VOL. IX, No. 2, APRIL - JUNE 1973. p.13, note 8. "El Camino Viejo ran along the eastern edge of the Coast Range hills in the San Joaquin Valley northward to the mouth of Corral Hollow. From this point it ran generally east-west through the hills and then down into the Livermore Valley and on to Mission San Jose. From there it turned northward, terminating at what is now the Oakland area. ... see Earle E. Williarms, Old Spanish Trails of Ihe San Joaquin Valley, (Tracy, California), 1965."
  5. ^ Frank F. Latta, "EL CAMINO VIEJO á LOS ANGELES" - The Oldest Road of the San Joaquin Valley; Bear State Books, Exeter, 2006. p.4
  • Frank F. Latta, "El Camino Viejo á Los Angeles", Kern County Historical Association, 1936

External links[edit]