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More paths, trails and road names
May 13, 2013, 05:00 AM By Darold Fredricks

In the early 1900s, this main route was given the name of El Camino Real (the ?Royal Road?).

In 1912, Contract #1 was issued for the paving of El Camino Real from Orange Avenue in South San Francisco to San Mateo. In front of the ever-popular and well-patronized Uncle Tom’s Cabin roadhouse, the project of paving El Camino Real was begun by the state.

El Camino Real: In 1776, after much preliminary exploration along the Peninsula, a mission outpost was erected at the northern tip, Mission Dolores, and at the southern end, Mission Santa Clara. The two missions were within a day’s travel by walking if the trip was begun early in the morning. Fields, meadows, sand, solid and loose dirt, mud, creeks and willow marshes had to be traversed to reach the missions in either direction. The creeks full of water and treacherous in the wintertime, proved to be the greatest challenge. The easiest path, along the foothills in many places, became well established in the following years.

Mission Dolores’ agricultural outpost in San Pedro Valley (Pacifica) met with widespread disaster in the early 1790s. Measles and other infectious diseases decimated the Indian population and put a halt to its use as the “breadbasket” for the mission in San Francisco. The flat area along the Bay was ideal for raising cattle and growing food and the church put its effort now into using the section around San Mateo for crops. There was abundant water available, flat expanses and transportation to the missions over the well-established Mission Road (El Camino Real) was much easier. The Indians who were to be taught farming were moved to the area and used as laborers until they could attain the skills necessary to till their own land (That was the original avowed plan of the church. Much time passed, however, before any Indians obtained this promised land).

Although church records have been lost, all indications are that in 1793 or 1794 a 22- by 147-foot granary was built by San Mateo Creek along the trail from Mission Dolores to Mission Santa Clara. This first granary was erected at the site of the Moraga campsite on the south side of San Mateo Creek. This was destroyed in an 1808 earthquake. Crude wooden bridges were built to span the deep and troublesome creeks that flowed out from the hills to the west. As wagons and, later, stagecoaches became more common, the bridges would require a lot of care and repair when they washed out or were damaged by use. Much time was spent by travelers getting around these barriers, and over the years these obstacles to travel created the need for rest stops. Some of them developed into roadhouses, such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin (the 14-Mile House) that served the public for a hundred years.

In the early 1900s, this main route was given the name of El Camino Real (the “Royal Road”). A vestige of the early missions, it was a symbol of the nostalgic past to Mrs. A. S. C. Forbes of Los Angeles. Early in the 1900s, she became an avid devotee of the new craze, the automobile. Travel in these days meant taking off across the country on roads that were little more than unimproved paths, often severely rutted and without signs that indicated businesses or directions to towns. After an exasperating trip from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Peninsula that found her frequently confused by directions or taking the wrong roads in her search for the ruined missions, she vowed to do something to aid future travelers on El Camino Real.

Whoever first used the name El Camino Real is lost to history, but it was an apt designation for the time-honored path that had been blazed in the 1700s by the explorers who traveled up and down California’s coast. It became a lifeline between the missions. 

Daly City/John Daly Avenue: John Daly was a true individualist who developed a splendid reputation for generosity and kindness to a community. By 1911, the city was ready to incorporate and, remembering the good and generous deeds of John Daly, the city was named for him.

Easton Avenue (Burlingame): Ansel Ives Easton was one of seven children, and his brother was Aschell Samuel Easton who became the San Mateo County surveyor in the 1860s. Aschell married Georgette Tilton of San Mateo. Ansel migrated to California in 1852, after the initial Gold Rush had subsided but he nevertheless made much money in the booming real estate market, along with other business dealings. He married Darius Ogden Mills’ sister Adeline, for which Adeline Creek in Burlingame is named. When Jose Antonio Sanchez died in 1843, the southern 1,500 acres were purchased by Ansel Ives Easton, and north of him, his brother-in-law D.O. Mills bought 1,500 acres. Eventually the two families would own almost 8,000 acres of the original 15,000-acre Rancho Buri Buri.

Rediscovering the Peninsula by Darold Fredricks appears in the Monday edition of the Daily Journal.


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