Near Hesperus in La Plata County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Dominguez and Escalante
In 1776, Franciscan Fathers, Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Silvestre Velez de Excalante and eight companions, explored what is now southern Colorado, Utah, and northern Arizona, as men of peace.
Between August and December, 1776, Dominguez and Escalante and a small group of men attempted to find an overland route between the Spanish villages in New Mexico and the Spanish missions in California.
The expedition crossed the La Plata River near what is now Hesperus. On August 10 and 11, 1776, Escalante wrote:
"... we swung west through the valleys of very beautiful timber and abundant pasturage, roses, and various other flowers.... We were not able to move camp because Father Fray Francisco Atanasio awoke very weak.... For this reason we were not able to go to see the veins and metallic stones of the sierra, although they were nearby, as we were assured by a companion who had seen them on another occasion."
Although Dominguez and Escalante did not reach California, they are recognized as the first Europeans to traverse and map what is now central Utah and cross the mighty Colorado River,
An 18th Century monstrance used by Franciscan Fathers in what is now California and New Mexico. A monstrance was used to hold the Eucharist during church services.
Upper right map caption
Expedition cartographer Bernard Miera Y Pacheco accompanied Dominguez and Escalante and drew this map of the region in 1778.
– Courtesy of Utah State Historical Society
Lower right Map caption
Dominguez and Escalante followed a route used by Juan Maria de Rivera in 1765. After crossing the Gunnison River, however, they ventured into a land that had never been seen by Europeans.
Erected by Colorado Historical Society and United States Forest Service.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Exploration. In addition, it is included in the Dominguez y Escalante Expedition series list.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 37° Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Hesperus CO 81326, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this location, measured as the crow flies. Dominguez & Escalante (here, next to this marker); Dominguez - Escalante Expedition (here, next to this marker); The Old Spanish Trail (here, next to this marker); [Old] Fort Lewis College (approx. 8 miles away); 1892 Horse-Drawn Pull Grader (approx. 8.7 miles away); Bauer House (approx. 8.7 miles away); The Columbine Bar (approx. 8.7 miles away); Mancos Opera House (approx. 8.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hesperus.
More about this marker. Marker is an interpretive sign on the San Juan Skyway scenic highway.
Also see . . . Dominguez - Escalante Expedition - Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on February 6, 2014.)
1. Dominguez and Escalante Marker
The marker states, “This project was partially funded by a State Historical Fund award from the Colorado Historical Society and the Federal Highway Administration - National Scenic Byway Program."
— Submitted February 6, 2014.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 28, 2020. It was originally submitted on February 6, 2014. This page has been viewed 693 times since then and 2 times this year. Last updated on July 21, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 6, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.