The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 16, July 1912 - April, 1913

The Approaches to California

THE APPROACHES TO CALIFORNIA
FREDERICK J. TEGGART
The paramount interest of California history lies, not in the
vicissitudes of settlers in the country, but in the search for a
road thither. There neither was nor is any short or easy way
of reaching El Dorado; and, from the days of the conqueror of
Mexico to the present, the wrecks of lives and reputations have
been strewn along the many paths by which men have essayed to
reach this land.
In contrast with the coast of California-by which was once
designated the whole stretch from Cape San Lucas to Unalaska-
the Atlantic seaboard of North America lies open to Europe. To
it there was but one line of approach for an expanding western
civilization, and the problem of this approach was solved once and
for all by Columbus and Cabot. Henceforward the nations-
Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, or Dutch-might come,
for the way lay open and direct.
To the Pacific Coast, on the other hand, no direct approach
was possible. Between western Europe and California there lie,
not the oceans merely, but the great land masses of the globe.
These obstacles are the primary consideration in her history, which
assumes ever new aspects with the opening of new routes. The
history of the Spanish period is the record of land expeditions
from the south and of hazardous voyages on difficult and un-
.charted coasts. The short period of Mexican domination wit-
nessed the coming of the Americans from the eastward overland
through the wilderness, and of new ventures on the coast by Amer-
ican ships. The conquest in 1846 was but the prelude to the
coming of the Argonauts by sea and land, over routes new and
,old. The conditions created by this mad influx had scarcely been
reduced to order when a new chapter was opened with the comple-
tion of the first transcontinental railroad. Such, moreover, is the
recognition of the importance of these approaches that, in spreading
:out the unwritten page for a newer chapter, the people of California
are preparing to mark its importance with the frontispiece of a
.great international pageant.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 16, July 1912 - April, 1913. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101058/. Accessed December 29, 2014.