American Auto Trails > El Camino Real in California

Pre 1920 El Camino Real Road Maps San Diego County


Good to Go!:

First, your post regarding San Diego is most informative and the kind of stuff I appreciate knowing.  You definitely added to my "knowledge bank."

You suggested  further exploring the road between San Diego and San Luis Ray, and I assume with some emphasis on the El Camino Real.  I am taking this map ride as a definite non expert, so forgive any wrong turns and detours!

Let's start with the San Diego 1915 ACSC strip map from their Mission set......because it is the first time I have thus far found in my ACSC stuff them making a "big deal" of the El Camino Real. This surprised me a bit because the El Camino is so embedded in my memory in association with the Club.  I'm wondering when they took it up as a "item."

And before I do the more detailed 1906 and 1911 materials, I want to toss in the 1915 Automobile Blue Book maps and turn by turns. 

I'll photograph and post the 1906 and 1911 when I get some light tomorrow.

Good to Go!

I have a few copies of the Mission set now. They do have relatively low numbers (212, 213, 214), but none of mine have dates on them. Some of the maps in my 1920 set have small dates from 1916 or 1917, but the mission maps do not. The index map for the 1916 National Old Trails Road has a map number of 220, so the Mission maps should be older. Does your have a date.
An older map would probably be map number 161, but I don't have it. I have an image of map 160, and it's called, Los Angeles to San Diego via Coast Route Part One Los Angeles to Santa Ana. It's an old one with the weird symbols for lodging, gas, etc. I assume that map number 161 is Part Two, Santa Ana to San Diego.

I can never follow those Blue Book directions. Too much has changed, unless they name the streets of course. There sure were a heck of a lot of grade crossings!

Good to Go!:

The Mission set I'm using are all copy right dated 1915.

I have had good luck with turn by turns and having period maps matching the dates helps! :D

I have a small question.  What do you consider the El Camino Real in this section?  I pose the question because the 1915 ACSC Mission map, which is for me the first example of the ACSC identifying a road they actually call the El Camino Real, has it going through Pacific Beach, not Rose Canyon. 

On the other hand, "California missions and landmarks: El Camino Real" by Mrs. A. S. C. Forbes (on Google Books) which describes the effort to identify it and put up bells, clearly states they consider it went through Rose Canyon (pg 265).  Aside from who is historically correct, which variant do you consider the El Camino Real for your purposes?  Or does it matter?

Good to Go!

I never really answered the question from Good to Go regarding the route of the ECR from San Diego to Oceanside.
I've been looking at a lot of sources, which I'll list below, and even the 1903 topographic map shows the Rose Canyon trail as an extant road. So we know it did exist during the early 20th century as a traveled route. Also, several of the auto maps show it, and guide books describe it as a more direct route to Oceanside. I wish I had the sources and maps spoken of by Mrs. Forbes that were used to trace the ECR route, but I don't. Instead, I'm using as my standard, two sets of 3 strip maps from the Automobile Club of Southern California. The first is a set of three maps from the January, February, and March 1912 issues of Touring Topics (the ACSC magazine). These are dated: San Diego to Los Angeles — 20 Dec 1911, Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo — 24 Jan 1912, and San Luis Obispo to San Francisco — 24 Feb 1912. The title does say "El Camino Real and Popular Automobile Routes to and from Famous Missions." To me this implies the routes shown are not always the ECR but are those preferred by drivers and the Club. The other set of 3 is the one that Good to Go discussed, and that is maps 212, 213, and 214, "Famous Missions in California on El Camino Real ." These two sets are not as detailed as other ACSC strip maps, so I give additional status to strip maps from the period before 1918.

I guess I should say my goal is not to find and follow the El Camino Real of the padres, but instead to trace the automobile route to the missions along which many bells were placed. Mrs. Forbes stated that of the 75 miles of ECR in San Diego County, every mile had a bell (ie. 75 bells). I wish that were still true. Many of the bells that do exist are later, from the time of post-1926 US 101 and others are from much later and were placed in odd locations such as the two downtown Escondido.

Still, even the maps I'm using as standards do not obviously follow Mrs Forbe's ECR in a few obvious cases. One is the route from the San Diego Mission to old town. This was obviously the road which ran on the south side of Mission Valley (Taylor Street and Camino del Rio, aka Mission Valley Road, the I-8 path today). This road is not shown on either of the ECR strip map sets. Instead the route used to reach the mission is the early path of the Inland Route to Poway and Escondido. It followed the following route to the Mission: 5th Street to University, University to Normal, Normal to Park, Park to Mission (a telling name), Mission to Madison, and Madison to Ward Road (Madison is now cut by I-805). Ward now runs into Ward Canyon Park, but it once ran down Ward Canyon instead of I-15. A small remnant of Ward Road also exists at the bottom of the hill, meeting up with Camino del Rio North. Ward here now becomes Rancho Mission Road, then a right turn on San Diego Mission Road takes you to the mission.

Here are some of the sources I'm using:

* "El Camino Real and Popular Automobile Routes to and from Famous Missions" — three strip maps from a 1912 set of Touring Topics articles entitled "Among the Missions on the King's Highway." Also these articles.
* "Famous Missions in California on El Camino Real", strip maps 212, 213, 214,  — three strip maps dated 1915.
* "California's Mission Tour". ACSC 1915. A tour booklet also containing the above strip maps.
* Various ACSC strip maps, including: 482, 481, 160, 480, 60, 138, 350, 401, 903, 139, 351, 140, 352, 141, 353, 142, 354, 143, 355, 144, and 356, as well as others.
* Tour Book (California). California State Automobile Association. 1912.
* Strip maps 64-80 from the 1912 AAA tour book, from Max Kurillo's book, California's El Camino Real and its Historic Bells.
* Tour Book, Southern California. Goodrich Tire Co. 1912.
* Tour Book, Central California. Goodrich Tire Co. Circa 1912-1914 (mentions Panama-Pacific Exposition as planned for 1915).
* Tour Book, Northern California. Goodrich Tire Co. Circa 1912-1914 (same style as above).

* Fireman's Fund Automobile Tour Book of California. Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. 1914 (though this on a paper strip covering a 1913 date).
* Southern California Goodrich Route Book. 1916.
* State Road Map of California. ACSC. 1917.
* Locke's Good Road Maps. Harry Locke. 1919. California maps dated 1917.
* State Road Map of California. ACSC. 1921.
* USGS topographic maps from various early dates available on the USGS Map Locator.
* ECR bell coordinates from my early locationless geocache, "The Bells of El Camino Real" [archived by viewable], and the category called Californian Bells of El Camino Real.
* ACSC county Automobile Road Maps for San Diego, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo as well as a "Santa Barbara and Vicinity" map.


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