Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Charles S. Peterson


Charles S. Peterson


Milford Allison


Derrick J. Shore


F. Ross Peterson


In 1939, Herbert E. Bolton stated a need for a synthesizing map of the Dominguez - Velez de Escalante route through the four states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Dr. Bolton urged that a joint effort be undertaken between state and government agencies to establish an "Escalante Way" through the four states to commemorate the historic trek.

The "Trail Guide to the Dominguez - Velez de Escalante Expedition 1776" is an answer to the Challenge given by Herbert Bolton. It is essentially a set of maps, accurately drawn, simplified for lay read­ ing and enlivened by supporting text.

This trail guide is separated into three main sections: 1) The Beginning, 2) The Ending, and 3) The Trail.

1) The Beginning. The Dominguez-Escalante expedition resulted as one of Spain's attempts to shore up her northwestern borders against foreign encroachment by the French, Russians and British. A route to Monterey from the northern Spanish stronghold, Santa Fe, would consolidate the Spanish domination of the Southwest and enhance commercial ties with important sources of supply. For this attempt two Franciscan priests were selected to lead eight other adventurers over two thousand miles in an attempt to find a practicable route to the California coast.

2) The Ending. The results of what then was thought to be failure

to secure a viable route west were important to subsequent exploration and administrative problems both to the crumbling Spanish colonies and to American expansion. Both the journal kept by Escalante and the map drawn by Don Bernardo Miera had influence beyond their time and intent.

3) The Trail. The last section of the Guide is a narrative of the trail keyed to accompanying detailed maps (24) of the route through the four states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. The narrative blends the experience of both the Spanish party in 1776 and the author in 1973. The maps show the route taken by the Spaniards superimposed upon modern landmarks such as cities, highways and dams. Each campsite made by the party in 1776 is shown and names given prominent geographical features by the Spanish travelers at the time they passed through the country are also given. Where the modern place and feature names have changed in the ensuing period, both have been given on the maps.

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