The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 495
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The Spanish Frontier in West Texas
followed by one made by Vial in 1788-1789, from Santa Fe to Natchi-
toches, San Antonio, and back to Santa Fe; and by Vial's extraordinary
round-trip from Santa Fe to Saint Louis in 1792-1793.6'
About 1799 or 18oo, Brigadier Pedro de Nava, then comandante
general of the Provincias Internas, thinking in more modest terms,
planned to build a road across the waist of the Despoblado from
Monclova in Coahuila to Parral in Nueva Vizcaya. The road would
facilitate communications and would also serve as a barrier against
the Apaches, as Nava planned to establish pueblos along the route.
When the first town was established, however, the owner of the land
entered into lengthy litigation which apparently discouraged Nava
from pursuing his project."'
The last effort to establish a direct road between San Antonio and
Santa Fe came in 18o8, when Governor Manuel Antonio Cordero y
Bustamante of Texas ordered Captain Francisco, Amangual of the
presidio of La Bahia to explore the route."8 In the meantime, during
the previous year, Zebulon Pike had penetrated to New Mexico, and
the Anglo-American pressure added urgency to the establishment of
better communications."9 Amangual traveled to Santa Fe following a
direct, generally northwestern direction. But on his return he first
went south to El Paso and San Elizario, and from there broke new
ground by crossing the Trans-Pecos area of Texas in an easterly direc-
tion, then traveling southeast across the Edwards Plateau to San An-
Within two years the Mexican revolution for independence broke
out, and the Spaniards concentrated their attention on more impor-
tant matters than the northern frontier. By the end of the colonial
period, then, occasional communications had been established across
the wide mouth of the Despoblado, but attempts to straighten the
frontier had failed. Indeed, when regular communications were estab-
lished much later between San Antonio and El Paso, the towns were
not outposts of the Spanish Empire but important way stations of the
young American empire as it pushed westward to the sea.
57Brief of the Asesor General, November 17, 1807, Tierras (AGNM, Mexico),
MCCCLXXXXIV, expediente 3, fols. 3-7; Junta de Real Hacienda, February 18, 18o9,
ibid., fol. 42.
"sLoomis and Nasatir, Pedro Vial, 459-534.
51It is interesting that when Pike was taken from Chihuahua to Natchitoches, the route
followed was the roundabout one south of the Despoblado. See Zebulon M. Pike, Ex-
ploratory Travels through the Western Territories of North America (Denver, 1889),
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/m1/561/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.