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New exhibit features historic Anza expedition

SOUTH COUNTY — Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum has welcomed a special exhibit with local roots in the area, featuring the historic expedition of Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza and hundreds of families who traveled from Mexico through California beginning in 1775 to establish a mission and presidio in San Francisco.

The “Anza Expedition” exhibit, created by the National Park Service, opened March 2 and will be on display through May 31 at the museum in King City.

According to Miguel Marquez, interpretive specialist for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail, the 1,200-mile Anza Trail started in present-day Mexico, which in 1775 was called New Spain, with recruits from Mexican cities and villages along the way.

“They embarked on this six- to seven-month expedition from New Spain, up the coast, all the way through the desert,” Marquez said. “They saw a lot of changing environments and landscapes. They encountered many diverse population and the expedition itself was very diverse.”

The people involved in the expedition were not just from Mexican heritage, there were also people of African and indigenous descents, all with the mission to establish the presidio in San Francisco.

“This is a new relationship we have with King City,” Marquez said. “There’s a local connection as well. The Anza expedition left Mission San Antonio and camped north of here in Greenfield.”

According to Marquez, in March 1776 the expedition left Mission San Antonio de Padua in Jolon and passed through the King City corridor, which was about a mile wide and a mile long, with thousands of cattle and about 300 families. They camped near the city of Greenfield before continuing their journey north.

Mike Valladares, a re-enactor from San Francisco, volunteered to be part of the Anza exhibit and represented the Anza Trail Color Guard unit. He was dressed in the uniform of Spanish soldados, or soldiers.

“We do the Mountain Horse Trail and the public relations part of the Anza Trail and work in conjunction with the National Park Service,” Valladares said.

The March 16 reception for the “Anza Expedition” exhibit included a special dance performance from the Ballet Folklorico of King City. The exhibit is on display in the MCARLM main exhibit barn, 1160 Broadway St., in King City, Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Ryan Cronk contributed to this story.

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