Camino Real de los Tejas

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Camino Real wagons.jpg

Background[edit | edit source]

The historic trail ran from the capitol and central Viceroyalty of New Spain — present day Mexico City — winding through Saltillo, Monterrey, Laredo (on the modern Texas border), San Antonio, and Nacogdoches, before reaching the Louisiana border at the Sabine River. The river crossing was a ferry, in use since around 1795, as the Chabanan Ferry. James Taylor Gaines purchased the ferry in 1819, and it became known as the Gaines Ferry. Gaines sold the ferry in 1843 and at some point it began to be called Pendleton's Ferry.[2] The ferry remained in service until being replaced by the Gaines-Pendleton Bridge in 1937.

After crossing the river the trail went through the Neutral Strip and Many, Louisiana before ending at Natchitoches in modern Louisiana.[3] The trail has a 2,500 mile length. For centuries the Native Americans had used the trail routes for trading between the Great Plains and Chihuahuan Desert regions. The El Camino Real de Los Tejas was first followed and marked by Spanish explorers and missionaries in the 1700s. It was one of several El Camino Real, or 'royal roads,' that connected the more Spanish possessions in North America with Mexico City.[1]

El Camino Real de los Tejas was established to connect a series of Spanish missions and posts between Monclova, Mexico, and Los Adaes, the first capital of the province of Texas (in what is now northwestern Louisiana). The royal road was an approximately 1,000-mile long corridor of changing routes from Saltillo through Monclova and Guerrero, Coahuila, Mexico; San Antonio and Nacogdoches, Texas, and then east to the vicinity of Los Adaes in what is now Louisiana. It constituted the only primary overland route from the Río Grande to the Red River Valley in Louisiana during the Spanish Colonial Period.[2]

In October, 2004, President George Bush signed into law a new national historic trail, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. By creating this Trail, recognition was given to its importance in connecting Mexico and Louisiana. The Trail is not one single pathway but a series of Trails beginning in l691 with the upper trail, commonly called the l691 Trail.[3]

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