Old Spanish Trail (Garces Expedition)

Clark County
  35.17274, -114.6248

"(#140) It's frustrating when I run across an MIA ... doubly frustrating when I add in the fact that I'm so far away from home, and there is little I can do about it. This location is about as far away from Nevada's jurisdiction as you can get. There is Laughlin, about twenty minutes to the east, but it's place I won't expect to find answers regarding historical markers. At its very, very tip." -- Journal Entry, March 2009

Along Needles Highway, 2.3 miles south of SR 163 -- Laughlin

Original Date Visited: 3/15/09

Revisited: 3/3/15

Signed: No

Welcome Back, Old Friend: March 2015
Finally, after two decades of its sudden disappearance, Marker 140] has been found! Thanks to fellow marker hunter, Justin Pulsipher, I and most likely the rest of Nevada, would've never known of its recent re-erection! This marker disappeared from its home in March of 2000 thanks to the beginning of a drastic widening of US 95 at Laughlin junction. According to Gary Bodell, fellow marker hunter and NDOT employee for Clark County, this stretch of US 95 never seems to get finished, having undergone construction since 1997. For fifteen years, this vastly important marker, noting the historical significance of Father Francisco Garces, the first white to step foot in Nevada, was lost to careless removal. Finally, after a ridiculously long wait, this marker is back in action! So just how was this marker was resurrected from the dead? The answer coming right up!

Having unknowingly wandered upon this marker in extreme southern Nevada, avid explorer Justin Pulcipher examined it a little closer and immediately knew that this was the long-lost 140. Notice the original Standard (L) format of the marker. What exactly happened to it will always remain a mystery, but considering its new re-erection in the same issue in which it disappeared, this leads me to believe that it had been sitting in an NDOT maintenance yard for almost two decades until finally given the word to repair and otherwise re-vamp it.

A later email by Msgr. Gregory W. Gordon cleared up loads of questions regarding the necessary lines needed to bring this marker back to life. Msgr. Gregory W. Gordon contacted me with a fine scan and picture of the new plaque, a rather unique plaque with an actual sketch that Garces had made upon reaching Nevada! Through the collaborative efforts of the Saint Thomas More Society of Nevada and State Historic Preservation Office in Carson City, it was apparent that [140] could not be found and was ultimately decided to be remade, with additional historic features added, including the two diary entries of Father Garces of March 3 and March 4, 1776, written near this site. A sketch of the Franciscan Friar among the Mohave was also included. Msgr. Gregory wanted to make it clear that the marker has been placed in a location more historically accurate of Father Garces' entry into Nevada.

Preparations for an unveiling ceremony were made on March 3, 2015, close to the anniversary of the Garces Expedition into Nevada, and within Nevada's Sesquicentennial year -- a very fitting way commemorate this important part of Nevada history, and of the heroic missionary efforts made in the region! I, of course, made an appearance for this fine commemoration event. So, raise your hands up as we're excited to finally remove this long-deserved marker from our list of "Missing Markers" (MIAs), one that now stands proudly on the edge of Nevada in honor of the earliest of our desert wanderers!

Thanks go to Justin Pulcipher for finding this marker who was also kind enough to provide proper GPS coordinates and accurate information on this Historical Marker.

  • Special thanks go to Msgr. Gregory W. Gordon of the St. Thomas More Society of Nevada for providing sponsorship from beginning to end of the marker's re-creation and ultimate installation!

  • Nice to see Marker 140 back up after having been missing for twenty one years!
  • The new and improved Marker 140!

Exact Description:
This is the exact description as shown on the ORIGINAL MARKER ...
Seeking to open a land route between Tucson and California, Fray Francisco Garces was the first European to enter Nevada. By the end of February, 1776, he had reached the Mohave Villages located a few miles southeast of this location on the Arizona bank of the Colorado River. The Franciscan father traveled alone in areas never before seen by a white man. Relying on Indian guides, he walked from village to village. The Mohaves agreed to lead him to the coast along a trail used for trade purposes. On March 4, 1776, accompanied by four natives, Garces crossed the Colorado River and reached the San Gabriel (California) Mission 20 days later. His route followed a much older prehistoric trail used to bring shells and other trade goods to the tribes of the mountain and desert West.

He was the first European to enter Nevada.

Exact Description:
This is the exact description as shown on the NEW MARKER ...
Seeking to open a land route between the Missions of Sonora and California, Fray Francisco Hermenegildo Garces, OFM, a Franciscan Missionary priest and explorer, was the first European to enter the present boundaries of Nevada. He departed Mission San Xavier del Ra near Tucson in October of 1775 and by late February of 1776, the Spanish-Franciscan friar had reached the Mohave villages located just south of this location on the banks of the Colorado River. Garces was now traveling in areas never before seen by non-Native American.

Relying on Native American guides, he walked from village to village. The Mohave agreed to lead him to the Pacific coast along a route used for trade purposes. It was from this general location on March 4, 1776, accompanied by four natives, that Garces left the banks of the Colorado and set out across the Mojave Desert. He reached Mission San Gabriel Archangel 20 days later. Upon his return, he again visited the Mohave villages in this vicinity in May of 1776. He route followed a much older prehistoric trail used to bring shells and other trade goods to the tribes of the desert and mountain west. On July 19, 1781, in a Quechan revolt against Spanish forces, Father Garces was killed at La Purisima Concepcion Mission near the Yuma Crossing. Padre Garces body was later interred in the Franciscan church of the Colegio de la Santa Cruz, Queretaro, Mexico.

"Greater love hath no man than this -- That a man lay down his life for his friends."

Excerpts from Father Garces Diary:
"I proceeded three leagues of the course northwest with some turns to the west-northwest. I observed this locality to be in 35 and named it San Pedro de los Jamajabes in this situation and that below are good mesas for the foundation of missions, and though they are near the river, they are free from inundation." -- Father Garces Entrance into Nevada, March 3, 1776

"March 4, on which was made the observation noted on the 3rd day. I departed, accompanied by three Jamajab Indians and by Sevastian on a course southwest and at two leagues and a half arrived at some wells (which I named Posos de San Casimiro). There is some grass." -- Father Garces Departure from Nevada, March 4, 1776.

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Related Links & Markers:

 Marker Unveiling Garces Expedition, Las Vegas Review Journal   St. Thomas More Society of Nevada 

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