Missions Ruins

Anthony Quartuccio

San Miguel Mission Ruins 1788

The first ruins I sketched were those of the San Miguel Mission, not far from Ensenada and the Pacific Ocean. It is located near the mission village, a farming community, and is surrounded by a high bluff. Only a section of the original mission is left standing, covered by a thatched palm roof to protect it from the elements. The mission was founded by the Dominican padre Luis Sales in 1788.

Santo Tomas de Aquino Mission 1791-1849

Descending the winding road through the mountains to the Santo Tomás Valley, we came to a fertile area of vineyards and farms that was once the site of a prosperous mission.

Recent autumn rains resulted in the valley being completely carpeted with a lush growth of green grass.

I stood admiring the serene landscape in the early morning sunlight. It was sparkling clear and the view unfolded for miles before me to the distant horizon. I found the ruins of the Santo Tomas mission in the lowland not far from the El Palomar Trailer Park. It saddened me to see the few remaining adobe walls slowly crumbling into muddy clay.

One section caught my attention. It appeared to resist erosion as it struggled to remain erect. Surrounded by tall palms, the ruin spoke eloquently to me of the past. It retained a certain dignity in challenging the elements, as if to say, “I am still here.”

However, rains continue to deteriorate these adobe walls, and it is only a matter of time before the mission will entirely disappear. It will then be nothing but a memory.

Mission Santo Tomas de Aquino was founded by the Dominican padre Jose Loriente in July 1791.

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