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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Portola and Anza Land Expeditions

18th century

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By 1767, the Spanish were determined to colonise California.

The Russians had settled in today's Alaska and were developing a lucrative fur trade.

The English also wanted to get involved.

You can still visit the Russian colony of Fort Ross, north of San Francisco, was settled by Russian fur traders in the 19th century.

In 1769 the Spanish sent the Portola Expedition up from Baja California, with 3 galleons and 2 mule trains.

The land expedition reached all the way to San Francisco Bay.

When they returned to Baja California, there was consternation that they had not found Monterey.

A leading friar commented : "you come from Rome without having seen the Pope!"

The whole trip had taken 6 months and covered 1200 miles.

A few years later, two new land expeditions were organised to access California by land : the Anza expeditions.

The first expedition took 6 months to reach the site of Los Angeles.

The second expedition reached the future site of San Francisco with around 200 settlers and their cattle.

The Anza trail was closed due when the Yuma tribe fought the Spanish.

The only way to get to California remained sailing up from Mexico - which took up to 2 months.

There were only 2 ships per year.