Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - — Casey Sanchez

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.

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