Photo Courtesy Carmel Valley Historical Society
That part of the history of Carmel Valley that can be documented began in 1769, when Captain Gaspar de Portola with his party of soldiers and southern neophyte Indians set camp at the mouth of the Carmel River. Don Gaspar de Portola had been sent by the King Charles III of Spain to relocate and assess the usability of the Port of Monterey and to document the places that presented the most desirable features for permanent settlement. The ultimate objective of this Spanish expedition was to establish secure military outposts within the context of supportive network of agricultural colonies in recognition of the fact that the Russians and the English had begun to show an interest in this unprotected Spanish domain.
Based upon detailed reports of land expeditions like Portola’s, the mission sites were selected, each with its associated gardens, corrals, grazing lands, grain fields, vineyards, chapels, and related structures. The Mission San Carlos de Borromeo ( later named “Carmel’) was rounded by Padre Junipero Serra at the mouth of the Carmel River on June 3,1770, the third of June begin the holy day of Pentecost.
For nearly a half century following the Mission’s rounding, the Carmel Valley was the source of food, building materials, and wool for the Mission as well as the town and Presidio (or garrison) of Monterey. A description of Carmel Valley first appears in a report Governor José Echeandia from two Franciscans, which reads, in pertinent part, as follows:
The Cañada of the Mission begins at the beach commonly called the Rio del Carmelo. It runs from northwest to southwest; it is more or less wide and about 21/2 leagues in length up to the so-called Corral de Padilia. On reaching said corral, it meets the river which is enclosed by two ridges of scraggy rocks. Following the Sierra on the north (because the southern ridge is inaccessible) one comes upon timbers, laurels, chupines, and tularcitos. This is true also of the hills on the other side which, from the mouth of the Carmelo, to the Canada of the Tularcitos, may measure about six leagues. It must be noted however that is this entire stretch of land, there are no more than three ridges (cerros), high mountains up to the Corral de Padilia which is in the near valley of the river, this Cerros de Los Laureles and the Cerro de Los Tularcitos. The remainder on either side is precipices crags covered with brushwood or tules. In a word, the land is useless so far as cattle are concerned. Nevertheless, the horses and mares of the National Service have grazed in years of drought in the locality of the valley christened “La Segunda” even up to the one called “Palo Escrito” which is the other pasture of horses.
January 22, 1828
FR. Vicente de Sarria
FR. Ramon Abella
Mission San Carlos de Borromeo
Note, that although the Franciscans’ description of the land appears to be fairly accurate in most respects, later uses of Los Tularcitos for grazing purposes.
The Franciscans also noted that the Rancho San Francisquito, located a few miles west of Los Tularcitos, was not a place suitable for agriculture due to the altitude and the fact that the narrow riverbeds and the weak currents made the leading of water impossible under the technology of the day. Nonetheless, it appears that the Mission at Carmel was farmed and irrigated by the mission Indians, as taught by the missionaries, through a system of ditches, evidence of which still exists today. In fact, part of the system can still be traced on the grounds of the Carmel Valley Golf and Country Club.
The cultivated Mission lands extended from the area surrounding the Mission up the valley on both sides of the river (mostly on the north side) to Robinson Canyon Road, as is indicated on the map attached hereto as Exhibit “__” It is also speculated that the Indians of the Mission cultivated a vineyard where Rana Creek meets Tularcitos Creek.