Loreto: California’s First Capital

LORETO, Mexico — Alaska Airlines offers one flight per day to a sleepy resort town on the Eastern Baja California coast. The Log hopped onto one of those flights visited this resort town – Loreto – two years ago. Loreto, at that time was home to more marinas (two) than signal lights (one). At least one of Loreto’s marinas (Marina Puerto Escondido) expanded the amount of slips available for boaters. Yet we haven’t verified whether the town’s public works department erected new signal lights since our last visit.

What Loreto lacks in urban amenities it makes up for in history, charm and character. Loreto was founded in October 1697 – meaning the town will celebrate 321 years this month – and became the first capital city of Las Californias (1768-1777), a province of New Spain. Monterrey became the province’s capital city in 1777, but Loreto can officially claim to be California’s first-ever seat of government. Take that, Sacramento?

The province’s run ended in 1804 and eventually became the U.S. state of California and the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Loreto itself is in Baja California Sur and the region is home to about 20,000-some people. Sacramento (California), Mexicali (Baja California) and La Paz (Baja California Sur) are now the capital cities of the three states stemming from Las Californias.


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