gmhTODAY 01 gmhToday Mar Apr 2015 - Page 79

it San Bernardino de Sena, so that this saint may intercede for the conversion of these” natives. Typically, the Spanish and Mexican explorers always referred to the native peoples as ‘heathens’, a prejudice or inherent bias because of how radically different the Amah Mutsun people viewed their lives in the natural world. From the expedition journal of Fr. Crespi, with Captain Fages in the lead, the party camped just below Llagas Creek near Old Gilroy on March 22nd and then cut west along the valley floor, through San Martin, watchful for an easy crossing point of Llagas Creek “ascending a pass through some low hills which jut across the valley” (Silveira Hills). This pass is where Santa Teresa Boulevard crosses Llagas Creek and because of an ever-present spring fed pool of water came to be known as Las Llagas. Subsequent Spanish expeditions, including the Anza party in 1776, always stopped at Las Llagas because of water availability and the ease of fording the stream at this location. Fages and Crespi made camp on March 23rd near Coyote and Laguna Seca. They crossed Coyote Creek the next day at Coyote Narrows calling the expansive oak covered plain to the north “Llanos de los Robles” and stopped the next day near Milpitas. There have always been variations to exact route of the El Camino as travelers always had trouble crossing the Pajaro River and early bridges were often washed away. The location of Old Gilroy or San Ysidro had a lot to do with its proximity to Pacheco Pass and its slightly higher elevation above the marshy San Felipe or Soap Lake. John Gilroy settled in the area in 1813, marrying into the Ortega family. Yet when heavy rains caused Llagas Creek to flood, Old Gilroy would usually suffer as well. James Houck was the first resident of what is today downtown Gilroy when he built a small split redwood inn and stable close to the intersection of Lewis Street and Monterey Road. There is a sculpture of Mr. Houck on Monterey at 4th Street with a plaque that reads “ Travelling north by foot, horse or cart along the El Camino Real was several days journey from southern Santa Clara Valley to the nearest town. James Houck began a stage service and by nailing an empty cigar box to the porch railing fashioned a mail drop and became the first postmaster.” It was not until the 1860s when the Butterfield Stage line used the current Monterey Road followed by the railroad extension pushing through to Sargent Station that the new section of Gilroy and the El Camino really came to life. Henry Miller, Mr. Rea and other early Gilroy settlers began the task of building drainage canals in an effort to dry out the land in South County as historically it was often- times waterlogged. As a side note, in 1868 John Muir walked from Oakland following the old El Camino south from San Jose on his way to Yosemite, and camped near Old Gilroy singing praises about the landscape and starting his climb of Pacheco Pass. The railroad corridor had a significant impact on the placement of the El Camino Real and the development of small towns that were train stops. At Coyote Narrows, near the Metcalf Energy Plant, high water from Coyote Creek would always challenge travelers along the current Monterey Road. It was the construction and uplifting of the railroad bed that helped our current Monterey Road become the major thoroughfare of the El Camino. Prior to the railroad, people often utilized a trail through a low pass in the Santa Teresa Hills for travel between San Jose and South County. Before the railroad, when the only non- Californios families residing in Morgan Hill and San Martin were the Fishers, the Murphys and the Tennants in the early 1850’s. They employed ranch hands of Indian and/or Mexican descent who had previously worked the large land grant ranchos after the collapse of the Mission G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MARCH / APRIL 2015 system. With the advent of the Gold Rush, the saying goes that the world rushed in and it has seldom slowed. There are so many stories that have involved the El Camino in some manner – the cattle drives of Henry Miller to San Francisco markets, the bandits such as Tribuco Vasquez lying in wait for a robbery attempt, and the planting of black walnut trees all along the route from south San Jose to Gilroy. What I found particularly interesting is a description of the El Camino Real running through Morgan Hill as related by Mildred Brooke Hoover in the “Historic Spots in California.” The El Camino was not only known as Monterey Road if you were traveling south but also was called the San Jose Road if you were heading north. “On southward, th