Las Flores Estancia

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Las Flores Estancia
Las Flores Estancia
Las Flores' "San Pedro Chapel" as it appeared around 1850.[1] The structure, along with its adjoining buildings, were constructed in 1823.[2]
Las Flores Estancia is located in California
Las Flores Estancia
Location of Las Flores Estancia in California
Location near San Clemente, California
Coordinates 33°17′59.81″N 117°27′39.85″W / 33.2999472°N 117.4610694°W / 33.2999472; -117.4610694Coordinates: 33°17′59.81″N 117°27′39.85″W / 33.2999472°N 117.4610694°W / 33.2999472; -117.4610694
Name as founded Estancia de la Misión de San Luis, Rey de Francia [3]
English translation Station of the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Patron Saint Peter, the Apostle [3]
Founding date 1823
Founding priest(s) Father Antonio Peyrí
Military district First
Native tribe(s)
Spanish name(s)
Payomkawichum-Luiseño + Acagchemem-Juaneño
Native place name(s) Huis'ne [3]
Governing body United States Government
Current use Boy Scout Camp
Designated November 24, 1968[4]
Reference no. 68000021
Designated November 24, 1968
Reference no. #616

The Las Flores Estancia (also known as Las Flores Asistencia) was established in 1823 as an estancia ("station"). It was part of the Spanish missions, asistencias, and estancias system in Las CaliforniasAlta California. Las Flores Estancia was situated approximately halfway between Mission San Luis Rey de Francia and Mission San Juan Capistrano. It is located near Bell Canyon on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base ten miles south of the City of San Clemente in northern San Diego County, California.


The first recorded baptisms in upper Las Californias took place on July 22, 1769 on the banks of a nearby stream, dubbed Los Cristianos by the Spanish soldiers who accompanied the missionaries northward during the "Portolà expedition." [5] Today, the site (referred to more commonly as La Cañada de los Bautismos, literally "The Gorge of the Baptisms," or simply Los Christianitos, "The Little Christians") located at 33°25′41.58″N 117°36′34.92″W / 33.4282167°N 117.6097000°W / 33.4282167; -117.6097000 is designated as California Historical Landmark.[6]

Known at one time as the "San Pedro Rancho," the property featured a tile-roofed chapel (visita) and a hostel, both built by relocated Luiseño[7] and Juaneño Native Americans, the latter for the use of traveling clergy. The buildings formed three sides of a square, 142 feet by 153 feet, all roofed with tile. A portion of the south wing had a second story, and the campanile (bell tower) was utilized as a navigational aid by early sailing ships. The chapel was visited by residents of two nearby Native American villages, Chumella and Questmille. Mission San Luis Rey was raising sheep at Las Flores as early as 1810.[8] To sustain the installation barley, maize, and wheat, were grown and cattle were grazed at nearby Las Pulgas ("the fleas"); also notable was the production of hides and tallow.[9]

Although Governor José Figueroa (who took office in 1833) initially attempted to keep the mission system intact, the Mexican Congress nevertheless passed An Act for the Secularization of the Missions of California on August 17, 1833.[10] Thereafter, the Franciscans all but abandoned the Mission, taking with them most everything of value, after which the locals salvaged many of the Mission buildings for construction materials. In spite of this neglect, the Luiseño Native American town at Las Flores (along with the Juaneño one at San Juan Capistrano and Luiseño one at San Dieguito) continued on for some time under a provision in Gobernador Echeandía's 1826 Proclamation that allowed for the partial conversion of missions to pueblos.[11]

The former estancia was later part of the Mexican land grant for the "Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores". The site was also the scene of the April, 1838 battle between the forces of Juan Bautista Alvarado and Carlos Antonio Carrillo in which the provincial governorship of Alta California was contested. Early California pioneer Marco Forster built the Las Flores Adobe (National Historic Landmark #NPS–68000021) in 1865 near the San Pedro Estancia.

Las Flores Estancia and the location of the missions at San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Rey, and Pala along with the Santa Ana Estancia are shown above. Also shown are the territorial boundaries of the Southern California Indian tribes based on dialect, including the Cahuilla, Cupeño, Diegueño, Gabrieliño, Juaneño, and Luiseño language groups.[12]

In 1974, the Boy Scouts of America constructed a camp (Rancho Las Flores) on the property which is visited by thousands of scouts and other youth annually.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carillo, p. 10
  2. ^ Engelhardt 1921, p. 36
  3. ^ a b c Ruscin, p. 159
  4. ^ NHL Summary
  5. ^ Leffingwell, p. 25.
  6. ^ #562.
  7. ^ Swanton, pps. 488-90, 498-99
  8. ^ Engelhardt 1921, p. 22
  9. ^ Engelhardt 1922, p. 258
  10. ^ Yenne, p. 19
  11. ^ Robinson, p. 42
  12. ^ After Kroeber, 1925


  • Carillo, Fr. J.M. (1959). The Story of Mission San Antonio de Pala. North County Printers, Oceanside, CA. 
  • Engelhardt, Zephyrin (1922). San Juan Capistrano Mission. Standard Printing Co., Los Angeles, CA. 
  • Engelhardt, Zephyrin (1921). San Luis Rey Mission. The James H. Barry Company, San Francisco, CA. 
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. (1925). Handbook of the Indians of California. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY. 
  • Leffingwell, Randy (2005). California Missions and Presidios: The History & Beauty of the Spanish Missions. Voyageur Press, Inc., Stillwater, MN. ISBN 0-89658-492-5. 
  • Robinson, W.W. (1948). Land in California. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA. 
  • Ruscin, Terry (1999). Mission Memoirs. San Diego: Sunbelt Publications. ISBN 0-932653-30-8. 
  • Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA. ISBN 1-59223-319-8. 
  • Swanton, John (1952). The Indian Tribes of North America. Government Printing Office, Washington. 

External links[edit]

Las Flores' Capilla de San Pedro in ruins, circa 1900.
The first recorded baptisms in Alta California were performed in "The Canyon of the Little Christians."