Lonely outpostNear Soledad, CA

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This is the thirteenth installment of my Mission Mondays series, exploring all 21 Spanish Missions along the California coast. You can read more about this series, and see a sketch map of all the missions, at this post.

The “Soledad” in Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad means “solitude.” And boy howdy, is that ever accurate.

Detail of California Missions map sketch by Chandler O'Leary

The third of three missions located in the Salinas Valley, La Soledad is also the most remote. It’s not as far off of modern Highway 101 as Mission San Antonio, but it’s the farthest from civilization.

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad sketch by Chandler O'Leary

In fact, even though there’s almost nothing left of the original complex (thanks to the caprice of the Salinas River)…

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad sketch by Chandler O'Leary

…you really get a sense for how self-sufficient the missions had to be when they were founded.

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad sketch by Chandler O'Leary

That’s because the mission is located smack in the middle of a bunch of vegetable fields. Quite literally. There’s no fanfare about the place—there’s barely even any waymarking to find it. It’s a bit of a shock, actually, after seeing mission after mission in town centers or near tourist traps.

But that’s the best part of the place: being able to stand in the shade and look out at a landscape right out of a Steinbeck novel.

 

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Comments (2)

  1. Audry

    I had to do a report on a mission, as most Californian kids do in elementary school. Soledad was “my” mission and my parents made a point of having my brother and I go visit “our” missions. (His was San Fernando.) It’s been a long while since I’ve visited, but I feel like there might have been cat paw prints in the floors.

    1. Chandler O'Leary Post author

      Hi, Audry. I learned about that elementary school project when I was visiting the missions! I stayed with friends in San Juan Capistrano, and their son was in 4th grade, and had just done his project on La Purisima. I grew up in Massachusetts, and our equivalent was visiting and studying Plimoth Plantation.

      You’re right about the paw prints! Though they were at Mission San Juan Bautista, just up the road a few miles. I didn’t see any info plaques or anything about them, so I didn’t know what the story was, but it just made my day to see them.

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