San Francisco Solano
(Trabuco Adobe)

In 1769-70, Gaspar de Portolá led an expedition north from Mexico into Alta California. On July 24th and 25th, 1769, they camped in present-day Orange County, and named the place San Francisco Solano. A small creek ran nearby, where one of the soldiers lost his trabuco, Spanish for blunderbuss, for which the creek was named.

Following the 1776 founding of Mission San Juan Capistrano, Indian vaqueros were sent to San Francisco Solano to herd livestock. Sometime around 1810, the adobe was built (Jim Sleeper, an Orange County historian, believes the adobe may have been built as early as 1806).

On December 14, 1818, French privateer Hipólito Bouchard's ships were sighted off the coast. Sailing under the flag of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata (now Argentina), Bouchard had recently raided Monterey and Santa Barbara. The padres from Mission San Juan Capistrano took the mission's valuables to San Francisco Solano to hide them. Government troops were sent to defend the mission, but Bouchard's men successfully managed to loot the mission's warehouses and damage some of the buildings. Nonetheless, the treasures hidden at San Francisco Solano remained safe.

In April 1822, Alta California became a territory of Mexico following its independence from Spain. In 1834, the missions were secularized and became owned by the Mexican government; the land was divided into ranchos. From 1838-40, Santiago Argüello served as the administrator at San Juan Capistrano, and in 1841 he was granted the 8,800 acre Rancho Trabuco, which included the Trabuco adobe, then in ruins. In 1846, the rancho was acquired by John (Don Juan) Forster, who was granted additional land bringing Rancho Trabuco to slightly more than 22,200 acres. Both Argüello and Forster later claimed to having built the adobe, but more than likely they just repaired and enlarged it.

In the following years, the adobe was ravaged by treasure hunters searching for gold and silver that was supposedly left behind by the padres during Bouchard's raid. A fire around 1900 also helped destabilize the adobe's walls. Today, only one wall remains. In 1966, a historic marker was placed by El Viaje de Portola, and around then a wooden shed was built over the ruins. Since then, the shed has been walled in and only small windows offer a glimpse of the old adobe.

I Visited Trabuco Adobe
4.16.2018

Bibliography