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Missions of Southern California

Missions of Southern California


Quilt design and images copyright by Susan Plack, 1999

Travel down the mission highway and click on each block to get a better view of the individual missions. Starting at the water, they are connected up by a trail leading up the coast.

Once the idea of making a quilt of the California Missions popped into my head, the next logical leap was to take a road trip and photograph them all. This was really the first photo expedition we took specifically to get images for a quilt. Up to this point getting photos for my quilts was not an organized adventure. Needless to say, the first few Missions were pretty fun. We stopped, we went inside, we hung around for a while... It didn't take the kids and I long to start bugging the photographer to move faster. A family tradition that continues to this day.

The scariest Mission was the one that was closed. We were in the middle of the state, Michael and the kids were NOT going to take another trip up for just this one photo! Amid lots of objections, Michael jumped the fence, walked down the road, took the photo and ran out again. The kids and I sat watch in the car waiting for the police to come and arrest their dad. Luckily, we got the shot without incident.

A special thank you goes out to Michael, Leah and Jesse for stopping at each and every Mission up and down the state of California, just to take a photo.

About the Missions:
The California Mission system began in 1769, when Father Junipero Serra founded his first mission in San Diego.  The mission system was created to settle the lands of California for the Spanish, and to convert the natives to the Catholic faith. 

New laws were created that gave the natives protection from travelers.  The natives were to live in communities where they could be self governed, not live as slaves, and be instructed in the Catholic Faith.  The Indians were not to live outside of these communities and the Spaniards were to stay no more than three days at a time.  It was with these guidelines that the missions of California were founded. The missions of “Lower California” were founded by the Jesuits. The job of moving the mission system into "Upper California" was given to the Franciscans, who were more willing to settle the missions under Spanish rule.  Father Junipero Serra spearheaded the drive north. 

Ultimately the missions were to be settled a days ride apart (about 30 miles or so), so that the traveler would have safe places to stop on his way to the land of “milk and honey” in the north.

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