Official Name: Mission
Nuestra Senora de la Soledad Founded October 9, 1791 by
Father Fermin Lasuen The 13th Mission of the California Mission
Mission: Father Lasuen dedicated the site to "the
Solitude of Most Holy Mary, Our Lady".
The Mission is midway
between the mission at Carmel to the northwest and San Antonio de
Padua to the south. This is the only mission located in the Salinas
Valley. It is 3 miles south of the town of Soledad and 1 mile west
of U.S. Highway 101
local Indians were the Costanoan. When Juan Crespi and Gaspar de
Portola came through the area enroute to Monterey, a nearby Indian
seems to speak a certain word over and over. It sounded like
"Soledad," which means loneliness which seemed an
appropriate word for the arid and desolate area. Later, on 9 October
1791, the mission was founded by Father Fermin Lasuen. The mission
was begun to help fulfill the desire of the Fathers to have missions
up and down California one day's ride on horseback apart. This
mission was midway between the missions San Carlos de Borromeo de
Carmelo and Mission San Antonio de Padua.
The first Padre here was
Father Diego Garcia. He was not a popular man with the people and
when he left in 1797, he was not missed. During his tenure there was
also drought conditions which did not help. He was also accused of
depriving and abusing the neophytes. Even after he left the mission,
there still continued to be trouble with an epidemic in 1802 as well
as a triple murder. After peaking in 1805, the population then
dwindled down gradually.
This mission is in an area
of extreme temperatures and climate. Because of the harsh clime, few
Native Americans lived here. Because of the scarcity of people, the
building of the mission took longer than most. Though a temporary
church was set up rather quickly, the first permanent church was not
completed until 1803. Even then, the mission had trouble from
flooding of the Salinas River two different times.
In 1832 a third flood hit,
spelling eventual doom for the mission Though the mission had a
fairly short religious life, there were over 30 Fathers who served
here. Many suffered from ill health while here and asked for
transfers. Nevertheless, the Fathers were able to transform the area
into something productive through irrigation and education of the
When secularization was
initiated in 1834, the mission was abandoned fairly quickly. The
last Franciscan Father here was Padre Vicente Francisco de Sarria.
He valiantly tried to keep up the mission and help the few Indians
remaining, but he died in 1835 and the residents found his body at
the foot of the altar. His little band of loyal followers carried
his body the 100 miles through the hills to the San Antonio de Padua
Mission. After his death, the mission never recovered.
In 1837, there were just
187 people left, including just 45 men. In 1839 there were only 78
people. By 1941, it lay in ruins and dis-repair and remained so for
over 100 years. In 1954, the Native Daughters of the Golden West
made a project of restoring the ruins of the Soledad Mission. Though
not completely restored, you can visit the small chapel and a wing
of seven rooms. You can still see the lines from the original
quadrangle on the ground. The Catholic Parish at Soledad holds Mass
at the mission a few times each year, but no regularly scheduled
services are held here.
Contact the Mission:
Nuestra Senora de la
Soledad 36641 Fort Romie Road Soledad, CA 93960 Phone:
This is a good timeline
page for the mission as well as a layout plan of the mission
Return to the
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page to choose a new Trail to follow This page was
last updated on 28 June 2012 at 12:56 pm
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