To California, through the canyonlands Domínguez and Escalante may not be as well known as Lewis and Clark, but the 1776 expedition by a pair of Franciscan friars across the desert Southwest is one of the landmark European explorations of North America. In the summer of 1776, Franciscan friars Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante left Santa Fe, seeking an overland route to Monterey, California. Though they never reached their destination, their journey was invaluable as a primary source of notes on the geography and cultures of the Four Corners region. During their four months on foot and horseback, the band of explorers, which included the mayor of Zuni Pueblo, Ute-speaking guides, and cartographer Don Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, criss-crossed 1,800 miles, in a route that took in the Grand Canyon and lands that would later be deemed Dinosaur National Monument and Zion National Park.
Photographers Greg Mac Gregor and Siegfried Halus revisit the Spaniards’ route in their recently released book In Search of Domínguez & Escalante: Photographing the 1776 Spanish Expedition Through the Southwest. The new title by the Museum of New Mexico Press pairs entries from Escalante’s journal with modern-day photographs of the places seen by the intrepid friars. In retracing the journey, the photographers found some sites were pristine and hardly changed, while others had been rendered all but unrecognizable by littering or oil and gas mining.
The author/photographers give a lecture and book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 17, at the New Mexico History Museum auditorium, 113 Lincoln Ave. For more information, call 476-5200.