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American WWII Air Defense Radar Stations

Spanish Presidios of El Norte de Nueva España

Spanish Missions of Pimería Alta and Baja California


This page was originally conceived for the United States Army occupied posts
of the Mexican-American War (1846 - 1848).
This list makes no claim of completeness.
Pre-Columbian Indigenous structures are too numerous to list here, and are not included.

Last Update: 29/NOVEMBER/2015
Compiled by Pete Payette - ©2015 American Forts Network

Castillo de Chapultepec
(1783 - 1866), Mexico City
An old Spanish fortress on a 200-foot hill overlooking the city. Completed in 1840. It was taken by the Americans in September 1847 during the Mexican-American War. It contained a Mexican military school at the time, and was defended solely by the cadets. This is the "Halls of Montezuma" in the U.S. Marine Corps Hymn. Taken over by the French in 1863 by Archduke Maximilian. The Presidential Palace was built in 1866 by Maximilian for himself and his wife Carlota. It later served as the Mexican President's official residence until 1939. The Museo Nacional de Historia is now here. Admission fee.

Nearby in 1847 was the Ciudadela fortress, and also the fortified Casamata.

The city was first settled by the Spanish in 1521 on the ruins of the Aztec city Tenochtitlán, and a substantial Citadel was built by Hernán Cortés on Lake Texcoco, consisting of two strong towers with several gun embrasures and loopholes, connected by a work forming three arches from which ships could sail under. It was constructed from the stones of the Aztec temples. This was located in the present-day Zócalo (the main public square). Excavated sites in several areas have revealed foundation ruins.

Camp Contreras
(1847), Mexico City Federal District
A Mexican fortified camp near Churubusco which was taken by the Americans during the Mexican-American War.

Nearby in Coyoacan, the Franciscan Churubusco Convent (1678) was also fortified by General Santa Anna's forces. It was taken by the Americans in August 1847. The Museo Nacional de las Intervenciones (admission fee) is now located within the complex.

Castillo de San Juan de Ulúa (Español)
(1582 - 1917 ?), Veracruz
The Spanish first fortified Isla Gallega in 1535. The present structure was extensively rebuilt many times beginning in 1582 to 1707 - 1712. Modifications were made in 1762 and 1774. In the 1590's the fort consisted of a square tower connected by a 120 meter double curtain wall to a large half-bastion, all mounted with artillery. Large bronze rings were set into the ramparts to provide mooring for ships. English privateers John Hawkins and Francis Drake were repulsed here in 1568, but still returned home as heroes. The city was sacked by Dutch pirates in 1683. The city's capture by Mexican Patriots in November 1825 ended the last holdout of Spanish rule on mainland North America. Captured by the Americans in 1847 during the Mexican-American War. The French took the fort in 1862 before taking over the country under Maximilian. The United States Navy bombarded the fort and city in April 1914 prior to a brief occupation (April - November 1914). Now on the island are an arsenal, drydock, shipyard, and marine signal station. The dungeons and walks are open to the public, accessed via a free causeway from extensions of Avenidas Morelos and República. Admission fee to museum and archaeological zone.
Exploring Fort San Juan de Ulúa by John Todd, Jr. (English)
PHOTOS from Veracruz Tour

Baluarte de Santiago
(1635), Veracruz
This bastion redoubt is the last remaining segment of the original fortification wall that surrounded the city, located on Francisco Canal Street, a few blocks from the customs house (Aduana Marítima). It was first constructed in 1635 in response to pirate raids, and took a beating when the Americans invaded in March 1847. A small museum is now located here (admission fee). There were once several other supporting redoubts along the wall, and a large fort on the west side of the city. The outer walls were demolished around 1880. Some fragments of the walls are still extant in a few locations throughout the city, including at the rear of the Convento de San Sebastian, and also near the Aduana Marítima.

Of interest nearby (about two blocks) at the former Mexican Naval Academy (Escuela Naval Militar) (1897 - 1952) is the Museo Histórico Naval (opened 1997), with exhibits and artifacts of the city fortifications. A small segment of the outer wall foundation has been unearthed in the museum courtyard.

The city was originally founded by the Spanish in 1519 at a site located 32 km (20 miles) north, at La Antigua, on Highway 180, and a Casa Fuerte was built at that time by Hernán Cortés. The city was relocated in 1599. A cannon marks the ruin of the stronghouse and church (La Ermita). General Santa Anna's army barracks (1835) are also here.

Castillo de San Carlos de Perote ?
(1770 - unknown), Perote, State of Veracruz
A Spanish four-bastioned moated fort, completed in 1777, was built here to serve as a fall back position should Veracruz fall. Texans captured on the 1843 Santa Fe Expedition were held here. Used as a hospital during the American occupation in 1847 - 1848. During WWII it housed German and Italian POWs. It was still used as a prison until 2007. At present it is not open to the public (?).

Puebla Forts
(1847, 1862), Puebla, State of Puebla
Fuerte de Loreto and Fuerte de Guadalupe are located just northeast of the city center, on opposing hilltops at the Plaza of the Americas. Fort Loreto was occupied by the American Army in October 1847. Fort Guadalupe was built after the Mexican War, at least by 1860. They both were later strongholds of the Mexican Army in 1862 under General Ignacio Zaragosa against a larger French force under General Charles de Lorencez. The defeat of the French here at the "Battle of Puebla" on May 5, 1862 has been celebrated as a regional holiday ever since ("Cinco de Mayo"). The French later returned and took the city in May 1863. Fuerte de Loreto now houses the Museum of Non-Intervention (admission fee).

Monterrey Fortifications
(1846), Monterrey, State of Nuevo Leon
Several Mexican defensive works were attacked and captured by the Americans in September 1846 which included:
Ciudadela (Citadel) (aka the Black Fort), an uncompleted cathedral with 30-foot high dark stone walls located about 1000 yards north of the city, manned by 400 troops with 30 guns;
Fortin de la Teneria, an earthwork built at an old tannery on the northeast side of the city, manned by 200 troops;
Fortin de la Federación (aka Fort Soldado), located on the east slope of Colina de la Federación (Federation Hill, el. 400 feet) on the south side of the city, south of the Río Santa Catarina, with a supporting earthwork redoubt on the west slope of the hill;
El Fortin del Rincon del Diablo (aka Fort Diablo), located on the east side of the city,
El Fortin de Libertad, located on the west slope of Colina de la Independencia (Independence Hill, el. 800 feet) on the west side of the city,
The fortified Bishop's Palace (El Obispado) (1787), located on the east slope of Colina de la Independencia (Independence Hill) at the west end of Avenida Padre Mier, was a stronghold for about 250 Mexican troops until two days after the city fell to the Americans. A museum is now located there (admission fee).
There were three or four additional unnamed redoubts surrounding the city at various positions, including one at the La Purisma Bridge over the Ojo de Agua (canal) in the city center, which was defended by 300 troops with artillery.
The Americans were encamped nearby at Campo de Santo Domingo (Camp at Walnut Springs) on the road about three miles north of the city.

Tampico Forts
(1825 - unknown), Tampico, State of Tamaulipas
Fuerte de Andonega (date ?). The old fort is currently used as a prison, no public admittance.
Fort Iturbide (1825), a stone fort located on the east side of town at the Cortadura Channel between the Río Pánuco and Carpenter's Lagoon. The American Navy captured the fort in the fall of 1846, which had already been abandoned by its garrison. The town was later garrisoned by General Taylor's troops through 1848 as a coastal supply base between Matamoros and Veracruz.
Fuerte de Casa Mata (1835), an adobe "strong house" once located at the present-day city newspaper building, linked by a tunnel to the Fuerte del Ocho, which is today a military hospital. In August 1866 this was the last French Army holdout during the French Intervention.
Fortin de La Barra (1862), a fortified entrenchment at La Barra on the south bank of the river.
Tampico During the French Occupation 1862 - 1866 from Así es Tampico

Of interest nearby in town at the former Maritime Customs House is the Museo La Victoria de Tampico de 1829 (admission fee), with exhibits on the Spanish military intervention of 1829.
1829 Exhibition from Así es Tampico
Brigadier Isidro Barradas' Armed Intervention of 1829 from Así es Tampico
The Victory of 1829 from Así es Tampico

El Fuerte Casamata
(1830 - 1860's ?), Matamoros, State of Tamaulipas
A small Mexican masonry blockhouse fort (or citadel), the last remaining defensive work of the town from the Mexican-American War. It was restored beginning in 1960. During the war the town was once ringed with trenchworks and parapets connecting eight redoubts and five smaller works. One of the redoubts fired on Fort Texas (Brown), Texas in April 1846, at the start of the conflict. The fort and town were then occupied by American troops throughout the war until 1848. The fort is now within the courtyard of the Museo Fuerte Casamata (admission fee), located at the town square (Plaza de la Independencia) at Calles Guatemala and Santos Degollado.

American WWII Air Defense Radar Stations
(1942 - 1943), State of Baja California (Norte)
During the early years of WWII the U.S. Army built and manned at least three SCR-270 early warning anti-aircraft radar stations along the coast of Baja California Norte, operated by the 654th AWS Company, to protect the southern approaches to San Diego, California. Known sites include Station B-92 at Punta Salispuedes, located 22 miles northwest of Ensenada (later moved to Alasitos, 36 miles south of Tijuana); Station B-94 at Punta San Jacinto, 60 miles south of Ensenada; and Station B-97 at Punta Estrella (Diggs), south of San Felipe on the Gulf of California (aka Sea of Cortez).

Spanish Presidios of the Chichimeco War (1570 - 1585)
(as noted in a viceregal order of 1582, each garrisoned by 4-14 men, all were discontinued by 1590)

Presidio de Maxcala, near Bernal ?
Presidio de Jalpa, at Jalpán.
Presidio de San Pedro Tolimán (1580's), at Tolimán.

Presidio de Portezuelo, near Ocampo.
Presidio de Jasó, near San Juan de los Llanos ?
Presidio de Pénjamo, at Pénjamo.
Presidio de Palmar de Vega, at Pozos.
Presidio de Atotonilco (1580's), at Atotonilco (?), about 10.5 miles (four leagues) north of San Miguel de Allende.
Presidio de Santa Catalina, somewhere between Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende.
Presidio de Jofre, near Iturbide ?
Presidio de Sichú (1580's), at Xichu.

Presidio de San Lorenzo de Reyes, near Cuitzeo.
Presidio de Tazazalca, at or near Tlazazalca.

Presidio de Ojuelos, at Ojuelos de Jalisco.
Presidio de Xamay (1580's), at Jamay.
Presidio de Colotlán (1580's), near Colotlán.

Presidio de Bocas, at Bocas de Gallardo, near Los Campos.
Presidio de Ciénaga Grande, east of Rincón de Romos.

San Luis Potosi:
Presidio de Valles, at Ciudad Valles.
Presidio de Charcas (1580's), at Charcas.
Presidio de Valle de San Francisco (1580's), southwest of San Luis Potosi.

Presidio de Maguaos, east of Tempoal.
Presidio de Tamaos, just east of Pánuco.

Presidio de Tamaloipas (1580's), east of Aldama.

Presidio de Palmillas, at or near Ojo Caliente.
Presidio de Cuicillo (1580's), about 10.5 miles (four leagues) south of Presidio de Palmillas, near Los Adamés ?
Presidio de Llerena (1580's), at or near Sombrerete.
Presidio de San Martín (1580's), a "few leagues" (5 - 7 miles ?) northwest of Presidio de Llerena.

Presidio de San Andrés (1580's), in the Sierra Madre Occidental range, near Santiago Papasquiaro ?
Presidio de San Hipólito (1580's - 1685), in the Sierra Madre Occidental range, near Santiago Papasquiaro ?
(these two presidios continued to operate after 1600)

Presidio de San Sebastián de Chametla (1580's - 1685), on the Río Baluarte, at or near Chametla (?), near Rosario.
Presidio de San Felipe y Santiago de Sinaloa (1580's - 1780's ?), on the Río Sinaloa at Sinaloa de Leyva.
(these two presidios continued to operate after 1600, both were garrisoned by 26 men in 1670. Sinaloa was still garrisoned by 43 men in 1730.)

Spanish Presidios of the Northern Indian Revolts (1601 - 1698)
(not including any already listed above)
See also pages for TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, and ARIZONA.

Presidio de Guazamota (1618 - unknown), at Huasamota (?).
Presidio de Santa Catalina de Tepehuanes (1620's - 1690's ?), at Tepehuanes. Garrisoned by nine men in the 1630's, by 39 men in 1670, and by eight men in 1693.
Presidio de Guanaceví (1617 - unknown), near El Zape ? Garrisoned by 25 men in 1617.
Presidio de San Miguel de Cerrogordo (1650's - 1751), on the Arroyo de Cerrogordo at Villa Hidalgo. Garrisoned by 26 men in 1670, 23 men in 1693, and 31 men in 1730.
Presidio de la Limpia Concepción del Pasaje de Cuencamé (1685 - unknown), on the Río Nazas northwest of Cuencamé. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1693, and by 41 men in 1730. Privately financed after 1743, it was then garrisoned by only 10 men under the Conde de San Pedro del Alamo, on whose land it was situated.
Presidio de San Pedro del Gallo (1685 - 1751), at Gallo. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1693, and by 30 men in 1730.
Post de Durango (1680's - 1730's), at Durango, a flying company that was moved to Canatlán in 1725. Garrisoned by 15 men in 1683. A garrison of 14 men were reported in 1730 before the post was later disestablished.
Post de Parral (1680's - unknown), at Parral. A detachment post of Durango, garrisoned by 35 men in 1683.

El Fuerte de Montesclaros (1610 - unknown), on the Río Fuerte at El Fuerte. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1693.

Nuevo Leon:
Presidio de San Gregorio de Cerralvo (1626 - unknown), at Cerralvo. Garrisoned by 13 men in 1730.
Presidio de San Juan Bautista de Cadereita (1637 - unknown), at Cadereyta. Garrisoned by nine men in 1730. Relocated to the "Real de Boca de Leones" after 1730 (date ?), near Sabinas Hidalgo ?.

Presidio de Nuestra Señora del Pilar del Paso del Río del Norte (1683 - 1773), at Ciudad Juárez. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1683 and 1730. Initially located a few miles downstream of the town, relocated to the town in 1684. Relocated to Carrizal in 1773. The El Paso / Juárez area was considered part of the Provincia de Nuevo México until 1848. See also Mission de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Presidio de San Antonio de Casas Grandes (1686 - 1691), at Casas Grandes. Replaced by the presidio at Janos in 1691, the post then became Post de Casas Grandes (1691 - 1692 ?), a flying company of 40 men.
Presidio de San Felipe y Santiago de Janos (1691 - unknown), at Janos. Town and mission founded in 1580, destroyed by Apache Indians in 1680. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1693. Mission rebuilt in 1717. Garrisoned by 51 men in 1730. Attacked again by Apaches in 1772. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777, and by 144 men in 1783. Chapel and Soldiers Barracks still remain.
Presidio de San Francisco de Conchos (1685 - 1751), on the Río Conchos at Pueblo de Conchos. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1693, and by 46 men in 1730.

Presidio de Santa Rosa de Coro de Guachi (aka Fronteras) (1692 - unknown), at Fronteras on the Río Nacozari. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1693 and 1730. Relocated about 36 miles north-northeast in 1775 to Rancho San Bernardino in the San Bernardino Valley, about 16 miles east of Douglas, Arizona, just south of the present-day border. Garrisoned by 55 men in 1777. Also known as Presidio de San Bernardino de Fronteras. Relocated back to Fronteras in 1780. Garrisoned by 106 men in 1783. Ruins accessible on a hill on the west side of town.

Spanish Presidios of the Provincias Internas (1700 - 1810)
(as per the Reglamentos de 1729 and 1772, and the Instrucción de 1786, not including any posts already listed above)
Presidios of the Frontier Line of 1772 from California State Military Museum

San Luis Potosi:
Post de Los Valles, at Ciudad Valles. A flying squad of eight men (as reported in 1730). Disestablished in the 1730's.

Presidio de San Francisco Xavier de Valero (aka San José de Nayarit) (1721 - 1773), possibly at Nayar, with outposts at San Juan Peyotán, Huaynamota (on Río Huaynamota), Santo Domingo de Ixcatán, and Mesa del Tonati (now Mesa del Nayor). A garrison of 105 men was about equally divided among the five posts.

Presidio de Culiacán (unknown - 1773), at Culiacán.

Presidio de Santiago de Mapimí (1715 - 1751), at Mapimí. Garrisoned by 34 men in 1730.

Presidio de San Pedro de la Conquista del Pitic (1741 - 1748), at El Pitic (present day Hermosillo). Relocated to Horcasitas.
Presidio de San Miguel de Horcasitas (1748 - unknown), at Horcasitas. Garrisoned by 45 men in 1777. Returned to El Pitic in 1780 after the Seri Indian Revolt of 1777. Garrisoned by 73 men in 1783.
Presidio de San Felipe de Gracia Real de Terrenate (1742 - 1775), at Terrenate, southeast of Lochiel, Arizona. Relocated in 1775 to Santa Cruz / Quíburi (present-day Fairbank, Arizona).
Presidio de Santa Cruz de Terrenate (1780 - unknown), at Las Nutrias, about five miles southeast of its original 1742 location. Garrisoned by 106 men in 1783. Relocated again in 1785 to Santa María de Suamca, about 18 miles west.
Presidio de Santa Gertrudis del Altar (1753 - unknown), on the Río del Altar, at or near Altar, on the road towards Tubutama. Garrisoned by 50 men in 1753. It was ordered to be relocated in 1775 to the mission at Cosimac (location ?), but never did. Garrisoned by 55 men in 1777, 73 men in 1783, and 90 men in 1803.
Presidio de San Carlos de Buenavista (1765 - unknown), on the Río Yaqui at Buenavista. Garrisoned by 45 men in 1777, and 73 men in 1783.
Post de Alamos (1767 - 1779), at Alamos. A flying company of 45 men was reported in 1777.
Presidio de San Miguel de Bavispe (1781 - unknown), at Pueblo de Bavispe. Garrisoned by a company of 84 Opata Indian scouts in 1783.
Presidio de San Rafael de Buenavista (1783 - unknown), at Pueblo de San Rafael, but was initially temporarily at Pueblo de San Ignacio, near Sáric. Garrisoned by a company of 84 Upper Pima Indian scouts in 1783.
Presidio de Bacoachi (1784 - unknown), at Pueblo de Bacoachi. Garrisoned by a company of 90 Opata Indian scouts in 1784.
Post de Arizpe (1779 - 1788), at Arizpe. Headquarters post of the Commandancy General de la Provincias Internas del Norte.

A second flying company for the province was created in 1767, location undetermined. It apparently was disestablished before 1774.

Presidio de Santa Rosa de Sacramento (proposed to be built in 1725 near Ojinaga).
Presidio de San Bartolomé (unknown - 1710), located 20km east of Parral, near Allende (?). Replaced by the flying company Post de Valle de San Bartolomé (1710 - 1751). Garrisoned by 30 men in 1730.
Presidio de San Carlos de Cerrogordo (1773 - unknown), near present-day Manuel Benavides. Originally located at the San Carlos Spring on the Arroyo San Carlos, about six miles upstream from the Río Grande, and about 11 miles southwest of Lajitas, Texas. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777. Relocated to Pueblo de Chorreras in 1782, about 90 miles east-southeast. Garrisoned by 73 men in 1783.
Presidio del Norte (1752 - 1865), at Ojinaga. Formally named Presidio de Nuestra Señora de Belén y Santiago de Amarilla, also known as Presidio de la Junta de los Rios. It was originally proposed in 1751 to be located at Pilares, near Comedor, but was instead located at Agua Nueva, about 60 miles north of Chihuahua, before it was relocated here in 1757. It was moved again in 1766 to Julimes on the Río Conchos (that town was founded in 1777, after the presidio was moved back to Ojinaga (La Junta) in 1773). Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777, and by 106 men in 1783.
Presidio de Nuestra Señora de las Caldas de Guajoquilla (1752 - 1774), at Ciudad Jiménez. Relocated to the "Valley of San Eleazario".
Presidio de San Eleazario (1774 - 1789), at Valle de San Eleazario, near El Porvenir, across from Fort Hancock, Texas. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777, and by 73 men in 1783. Relocated in 1789 to Los Tiburcios (present-day San Elizario, Texas).
Presidio de San Fernando de Carrizal (1773 - unknown), at Carrizal, located about 10 miles southwest of Villa Ahumada. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777, and by 73 men in 1783.
Presidio de San Buenaventura (1773 - unknown), at Valle de Buenaventura (present-day Buenaventura). Relocated in 1774 to the "Valley of Velarde", about 25 miles south of Laguna de Santa María. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777. Relocated to Chavarría (present-day Galeana) in 1780, 32 miles southwest of Velarde. The 1780 presidio site was also known as La Princesa, and the new town site was known as San Juan Nepomuceno, but the names never caught on. Garrisoned by 144 men in 1783. Ordered to be relocated again in 1788 to the "Valley of Casas Grandes", but it was not moved.
Presidio del Príncipe (1774 - unknown), near Coyamé. Originally located at Pilares on the Río Grande (near Comedor), it was relocated in 1782. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777, and by 73 men in 1783.

After 1774, there were four additional flying companies assigned to the province, garrisoned by 125, 144, 124, and 125 men each (as of 1777). By 1783 three of the companies had 154 men, and one had 124 men. Locations undetermined.

Presidio de San Juan Bautista del Río del Norte (1699/1703 - 1794), at Guerrero. Garrisoned by 33 men in 1730, 57 men in 1777, and by 96 men in 1783. A garrison of 125 men was reported here in 1803.
Post de Saltillo, at Saltillo (town founded 1570's), a flying squad of 12 men (as reported in 1730). Disestablished in the 1730's. A new flying company of 100 men was formed here in 1783 (disestablished in the 1790's).
Presidio de Santiago de Monclova (unknown dates), at Monclova (town founded 1674). Also known as Presidio de Coahuila. Garrisoned by 35 men in 1730. Relocated to the Río San Rodrigo in 1773, near El Moral. Garrisoned by 56 men in 1777. Relocated back to Monclova in 1781. Garrisoned by 96 men in 1783, and by 125 men in 1803.
Presidio de Santa Rosa de Sacramento (1737 - 1773), originally at Ciudad Acuña, then relocated to Valle de Santa Rosa (present-day Melchor Múzquiz) in 1738. Relocated north to Aguaverde in 1773.
Presidio de San Sabá de San Fernando de Austria (1770 - 1773), at Zaragoza (founded in 1753). Relocated to San Vicente.
Presidio de San Sabá de San Vicente (1773 - 1781), on the Big Bend of the Río Grande about three miles upstream from San Vicente, near Boquillas del Carmen. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777.
Presidio de Cerrogordo (1772 ? - 1773). Apparently a newly established post, but relocated to the Spring of San Carlos (in State of Chihuahua) in 1773.
Presidio de Santa Rosa de Aguaverde (1773 - unknown), at Aguaverde Spring located on the Río San Diego a few miles from its confluence with the Río Grande. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777. Relocated to San Fernando de Austria (present-day Zaragoza) in 1781. Garrisoned by 96 men in 1783, and by 125 men in 1803.
Presidio de San Antonio Bucareli de la Babia (1774 - unknown), at La Babia Spring near La Rosita. Also known as Presidio de la Babia. Garrisoned by 57 men in 1777. Relocated to Valle de Santa Rosa (present-day Melchor Múzquiz) in 1781. Garrisoned by 96 men in 1783, and by 125 men in 1803.
Post de Parras (1784 - unknown), at Parras, a flying company of 100 men.

Nuevo Leon:
Presidio de Monterrey (unknown - 1773), at Monterrey, consisted of only a Captain's house and chapel. Troops were quartered in private homes.

Twelve of the 24 newly settled towns (between 1748 and 1757) of the former Nuevo Santander Province were garrisoned by squads of troops by 1764. There was also a thirteenth flying squad generally assigned to the province.

Baja California Sur:
Presidio de Nuestra Señora de Loreto (1697 - unknown), at Loreto. Garrisoned by 25 men in 1730, 47 men in 1783.
Presidio de San José del Cabo (1735 - 1753 ?), at San José (Viejo) del Cabo. Established after the Pericú Indian Revolt of 1734 destroyed the mission here. Possibly still garrisoned as late as 1768. It was no longer listed as a garrisoned post in 1783.

Spanish Missions of Pimería Alta
(from 1687 onward), various locations, State of Sonora
See also ARIZONA page 2.

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Cósari was founded by Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in March 1687. The mission church was built near the Pima settlement of Cósari, about 30 km north of Cucurpé. This mission was the mother mission of the Pimería Alta. By the late 1690's the mission consisted of a church, a carpentry shop, and a blacksmith's area. By 1744 it had had been abandoned. Only the cemetery remains today.
Nuestra Señora de los Remedios de Doágibubig was founded in 1687 near the headwaters of the San Miguel River and was abandoned by 1730. Nothing remains of this mission.
San Ignacio de Cabúrica was founded in 1687, located in San Ignacio.
San Pedro y San Pablo del Tubutama was founded in 1691, located in Tubutama.
Nuestro Padre San Francisco de Átil was founded in 1697, located in the small town of Átil. The original mission was founded by Father Kino. Some buildings were later constructed by Jesuit missionary Jacobo Sedelmayer in 1730. In Jesuit records, the mission is called Los Siete Príncipes del Átil (The Seven Archangels of Átil). The name of the mission was changed when the Franciscan Order took over administration in 1768.
Santa María Magdalena was founded in 1691, located in Magdalena. Father Kino's grave (1711) is located here.
San José de Ímuris was founded in 1687, located in Ímuris.
Nuestra Señora del Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera was founded in 1689, located in Cocóspera.
San Antonio Paduano del Oquitoa was founded in 1689, located in Oquitoa.
San Diego del Pitiquito was founded in 1694, located in Pitiquito.
San Luis Bacoancos was founded in 1691, but was soon abandoned after Apache attacks.
San Lázaro was founded in 1691, but was soon abandoned after Apache attacks.
Santa Gertrudis del Sáric located in Sáric.
La Purísima Concepción de Nuestra Señora de Caborca was founded 1694, located in Caborca.
Santa María de Suamca was founded 1693.
Nuestra Señora del Pópulo del Bisanig was founded 1693.
Nuestra Señora de Loreto y San Marcelo de Sonoyta was founded 1693, located in Sonoita. This was the furthest west of the Sonoran missions.
Nuestra Señora de la Ascención de Opodepe was founded 1704, located in Opodepe.
Los Santos Reyes de Cucurpé located in Cucurpé.
Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Arizpe located in Arizpe.
Nuestro Padre San Ignacio de Cuquiárachi

Spanish Missions of Baja California
(from 1683 onward, listed in chronological order of founding)

The Jesuits founded and administered the early missions until ordered withdrawn from Mexico in 1768. The Franciscans then took over the mission system, until they in turn were replaced by the Dominicans in 1773. Some of the missions were known to have been fortified and had resident soldier protection.

San Bruno founded in 1683 about 20 km north of Loreto. Abandoned in 1685. Ruins remain of this fortified settlement.
Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó founded in 1697 at Loreto, abandoned 1829. This was the first permanent Spanish settlement of the Baja California peninsula. The Presidio of Loreto was also established in 1697 (see above listing). Of interest is the Loreto Museum of Jesuit Missions at 16 Salvatierra St. and Misiones St. (admission fee).
Visita de San Juan Bautista Londó founded in 1699, located at the Cochimí settlement of Londó, about 30 km north of Loreto and 13 km west of the Gulf of California coastline, west of the abortive mission site of San Bruno. Permanent stone structures were begun in 1705, but by 1750 its Cochimí population had been relocated to Mission San José de Comondú. Ruins remain.
San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó founded in 1699 at a spring called Biaundó by the native Cochimí Indians, about 8 km north of the mission's subsequent location. The site was abandoned in 1701 because of a threatened Indian revolt, but was reestablished in 1702. Several years later it was moved to the better-watered present location of the community of San Javier. By 1817 the mission was abandoned. The church has been restored and is now maintained by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.
San Juan Bautista Malibat (aka Mission Liguí) founded in 1705 about 30 km south of Loreto. The mission was closed in 1721, the remaining neophytes were moved to the new mission of Dolores in the territory of the Guaycura, to the south of San Juan Bautista. Surviving archaeological remnants of the abandoned mission include several sections of building foundations.
Santa Rosalía de Mulegé founded in 1705 near the entrance of Bahía de Concepción, on the Gulf of California coast. Construction of a stone church was begun in 1766. However, by 1770 the mission was virtually deserted. The Dominicans, who succeeded the Franciscans in 1773, began rebuilding, but the population remained less than 100. The mission ceased to function in 1828. The present church buildings have been extensively restored.
San Jose de Comondú founded in 1708 west of Loreto on an arroyo flowing to the Pacific coast. "Comondú Viejo" was established by the Jesuit missionary Julián de Mayorga. The location proved less than ideal as an agricultural settlement. A smallpox epidemic in 1710 killed half of the mission's neophytes. The mission was moved to its second site in 1736, and Comondú Viejo became a visita or subordinate mission station. The foundations of the chapel and portions of an irrigation system survive. The new location for Comondú was located about 50 km to the southwest, at what had previously been the visita of the San Miguel mission. This location was reduced back to visita status in 1737, although many structural remnants of the mission survive. The final location for the mission was about 3 km upstream from San Miguel. First adobe structures and, after 1750, a large stone building were erected. However, the neophyte population declined from more than 300 in 1740 to 80 in 1768 and 28 in 1800. The mission ceased to function in 1827. Substantial architectural remnants survived into the 20th-century, but the existing buildings have been extensively renovated.
La Purísima Concepción de Cadegomó founded in 1720 about 100 km west of Loreto. By 1735 it had been moved to a new location at the Cochimí ranchería known as Cadegomó ("arroyo of the carrizos"), about 30 km south of the original site. The mission was abandoned in 1822. In the early 20th-century the church was still in use, but by the end of the century only a few traces of structures remained.
Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz Airapí founded in 1720. The mission had little success. It was sacked in the Pericú Revolt of 1734 and finally abandoned in 1748, when its Indian neophytes were relocated to the Todos Santos mission.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Huasinapí founded in 1720 at the Cochimí settlement of Huasinapí in the Sierra de la Giganta, about 40 km west of Mulegé. The mission was abandoned in 1795, when its residents were transferred to the La Purísima mission. Surviving traces include building walls, dams, and graveyards.
Santiago de Los Coras founded in 1721 at the native settlement of Aiñiní, about 40 km north of San José del Cabo. Mission Santiago was the first target of the Pericú Revolt in 1734. Its missionary, Lorenzo José Carranco, was killed, and the buildings were sacked. Rebuilding was begun in 1734, but the mission was ultimately abandoned during the Dominican period in 1795, and its remaining neophytes were relocated to San José del Cabo.
Nuestra Señora de los Dolores del Sur Chillá founded in 1721 about midway between Loreto and La Paz. In 1723 the mission site was moved to the Guaycura settlement of Apaté, about 4 km inland from the coast. It was moved again in 1741 to a location which had previously functioned as its visita of La Pasión, known as Chillá or Tañuetía ("place of the ducks"), about 25 km southwest of Apaté. The mission was subsequently reduced to the status of a visita of Mission San Luis Gonzaga. It was finally abandoned in 1768, when the Franciscans took over control of the Baja California missions from the Jesuits. The remaining neophytes were relocated to the Todos Santos mission.
San Ignacio Kadakaamán founded in 1728 at the site of the modern town of San Ignacio. The impressive surviving church was constructed in 1786. The mission was finally abandoned in 1840.
Estero de las Palmas de San José del Cabo Añuití founded in 1730 at the Pericú settlement of Añuití, near the modern city of San José del Cabo. Initially located near the beach, the station was subsequently moved inland about 8 kilometers. In 1734 the Pericú Revolt broke out and the mission was destroyed. In 1735-36, the reestablished outpost was moved back to the coast, but it served as a visita for Mission Santiago and as the site of the Spanish Presidio de San José del Cabo. In 1753 the mission was again moved inland. In 1795, under the Dominicans, the surviving native population of Mission Santiago was transferred to San José del Cabo. The mission was finally closed in 1840.
Santa Rosa de las Palmas (Mission Todos Santos), aka Nuestra Señora del Pilar de la Paz, founded in 1733. The site was initially a visita, or subordinate mission station of the mission at La Paz, established in 1724. It became the independent mission of Santa Rosa in 1733. However, it was destroyed in the following year during the great revolt of the local Pericú and Guaycura Indians. The mission was reestablished in 1735, and its dwindling population was augmented in 1748 when the remaining neophytes at La Paz were moved to Todos Santos and the mission took over the designation of its parent colony. The mission was finally closed in 1840.
San Luis Gonzaga Chiriyaqui founded in 1740 on the Magdalena Plains. Initially in 1721 a visita or subordinate mission station of Mission Dolores near the coast to the east, the site was elevated to mission status in 1737. The mission was closed in 1768. Stone and adobe brick structures still survive at the site.
Santa Gertrudis (aka Dolores del Norte) founded in 1752 about 80 km north of San Ignacio. The mission was finally abandoned in 1822. The church was extensively renovated in 1997, substantially altering its historical character.
San Francisco Borja founded in 1762 at the Cochimí settlement of Adac, west of Bahía de los Ángeles. Before becoming a mission, the site served as a visita or subordinate mission station for Mission Santa Gertrudis. The construction of buildings was begun in 1759. A stone church was completed in 1801. The mission was abandoned in 1818, as the native population in this part of the peninsula disappeared. Structures and ruins survive.
Visita de Calamajué (Calamyget) founded in 1766 about 90 km north of San Borja. It was intended to become the site of Mission Santa María. However, an apparently more suitable site for the latter was found about 50 km farther north, at Cabujakaamung. Calamajué also served as a travel station on the Camino Real Misionero between San Borja and Santa María. Adobe ruins and rock corrals now mark the location.
Santa María de los Ángeles founded in 1767, abandoned in 1818. Ruins remain.

San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatá founded in 1769 about 200 miles south of Ensenada, at the Cochimí settlement of Velicatá. In the 1770's, under the Franciscans and then after 1773 under their Dominican successors, the mission quickly reached its peak and then went into decline as epidemics decimated the native population. A missionary was no longer permanently resident at the site after about 1818. A few ruined walls and stone foundations survive at the site as well as petroglyphs and some remains of pictograms.
Visita de la Presentación founded in 1769 a subordinate mission station for San Javier, about 16 km south of that mission, west of Loreto. It was abandoned in 1817. Substantial remnants of stone structures and the water system survive.

Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de Viñacado founded in 1774 near the modern town of El Rosario. Its native name was variously given as Viñadaco, Miñaraco, and Viñatacot. In 1802 the mission was moved from its first site to a location about 6 km closer to the coast with more space, more agricultural land, and better access to external supplies. When the second site ceased to function as a mission in 1832, it was turned over to local residents. Ruined walls and foundations from both the first and the second mission survive.
Visita de San José de Magdalena founded in 1774 about 16 km west of the Gulf of California coast. The visita was terminated when the mission at Mulegé was closed in 1828. Ruined walls of stone and adobe brick survive at the site.
Santo Domingo de la Frontera founded in 1775 near Colonia Vicente Guerrero and northeast of San Quintín Bay. The first site of the mission was about 13 km east of the coast, but the water supply proved to be inadequate. The mission was moved about 4 km farther east in 1793. The native population dwindled under the impacts of Old World diseases, and after about 1821 the site ceased to be served by a resident priest. Ruined adobe walls survive.
San Vicente Ferrer founded in 1780 in a place that is now called "Llano Colorado" or "Red Plain". Abandoned by 1833. This was the largest of the Dominican establishments, and was their center of operations. The buildings were divided into two sections: one was composed of the religious center that had a church, kitchen, dining room, storage room, cells for the missionaries, and dormitories for the Native Americans. The other section was for the 12 to 25 soldiers detached from the Presidio of Loreto to protect the territory between the missions of San Fernando de Velicatá and San Diego (Alta California). The buildings were surrounded by a wall with several watch towers. There was also an irrigation system consisting of a dam and stone-lined ditches for watering the fields. Archaeological excavations were begun at the site in 1997.
Puerto de la Purísima Concepción founded in 1780 on the Colorado River in Yuma, California. Attacked and destroyed by Quechen Indians in July 1781. (see CALIFORNIA page 5)
San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer founded in 1781 on the Colorado River near Bard, California. Attacked and destroyed by Quechen Indians in July 1781. (see CALIFORNIA page 5)
San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera founded in 1797. The ruins are located in present-day Ejido La Misión in the municipio of Ensenada. The mission was built with the support of six soldiers from the Presidio of San Diego and five others probably from Mission San Vicente Ferrer. They had just begun to build the first houses and plant the first crops when the neighboring San Juan Bautista Creek ran dry. This forced them to move the mission to a new site at San Juan Bautista, 10 km upstream, where there was a good supply of water. The adobe enclosure was rectangular, with the church and the residential quarters facing east and south. It had an open patio, the only entrance to which was a large door located in the southeast corner of the complex, protected by the soldiers' barracks. The complex also included an irrigation ditch, four granaries, two houses, a corral, and three other rooms.
Santo Tomás de Aquino founded in 1791 in the territory of the Kumeyaay, on the mountainside of the San Solano hills in northwestern Baja California State. It bridged the 120 km gap between the previously founded missions of San Vicente and San Miguel. The mission was relocated twice, in 1794 and in 1799. Historians are uncertain concerning the locations of the first two mission sites. The third and final location was at the modern town of Santo Tomás. The population was over 250 individuals in 1800, and it reached its peak of 400 in 1824. The mission was secularized in 1833, but a priest continued to serve the neophytes until 1849. In that year, the native population had fallen to 60, and the mission was abandoned to the Mexican army, who used it as a fort and capital for northern Baja California. Deteriorating ruins survive at the third site.
San Pedro Mártir de Verona founded in 1794. Located at an elevation above 1,500 meters above sea level and far inland, this mission appears to have represented an initiative by the Dominicans to extend control over the Kiliwa Indians who had lived outside of the scope of the earlier coastal missions. The first site of the mission was Casilepe; later in the same year it was relocated to Ajantequedo, about 13 km to the northeast. The date for the closing of the mission is somewhat uncertain, being variously reported as 1806 and 1824. The mission's neophytes were relocated to Mission Santo Domingo. Archaeological explorations have located possible traces of the first mission site. Foundations and walls survive at the second mission site.
Santa Catarina Virgen y Mártir founded in 1797 in the present-day Valle of El Álamo, in the municipio of Ensenada, on a plateau over 1000 meters above sea level, surrounded by an irrigable valley, some 62 km west of Mission Santo Tomás. The mission was intended as a defensive fort against eastern intruders from the Colorado River area. In 1840 hostile raiders struck, killing 16 neophytes and burning the mission. Mexican soldiers launched a punitive expedition, but the mission was not rebuilt. Archaeological investigations of the mission's traces are in progress.
Visita de San Telmo founded in 1798. When the geographer Peveril Meigs, III, investigated the area in 1926, he identified two areas on the Arroyo de San Telmo that had apparently been developed for agricultural use by the Dominicans: San Telmo de Arriba and San Telmo de Abajo, the latter being about 4 km downstream to the southwest from the former.
El Descanso (Mission San Miguel la Nueva) founded in 1817 at a site 22 km south of the present-day city of Rosarito. It was the next-to-last mission founded by the Dominicans, and the furthest north in Baja California. Today only stone foundations and ruined adobe walls survive. Because Mission San Miguel, 13 km to the south, was frequently flooded by the Río Guadalupe, the Dominicans sought another site on higher ground for El Descanso. In 1830 Father Félix Caballero constructed an adobe church here and managed both missions from El Descanso, but in 1834 it ceased to function as a mission. At the time it had a population of just 254, including those from Mission San Miguel. By 1853 the mission was deserted. The church, the sacristy, and the missionary rooms were the main structures and formed a square. Several kilometers upstream there was a garden, a winery, and orchards. The irrigation system, which used a reservoir and gravity to take the water in acequias into the fields, was typical for missions of this sort. Protection may have been provided by a small adobe fort, located on a hill to the south where the old cemetery is located. Exploratory archaeological excavations were made at the mission site in 1997.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Norte founded in 1834 at the site of the modern community of Guadalupe, about 25 km east of Mission San Miguel. This was the last of the new Dominican missions in Baja California, and the only one begun after Mexico had gained its independence in 1821. In 1840 a rebellion under a local leader, Jatñil, forced the friars to abandon the mission. Stone foundations and adobe walls from the short-lived mission survived at the site as late as the middle 20th-century.

Carmen Fort ?
(1720's ?), Ciudad del Carmen, State of Campeche
A Spanish colonial fort was built here at the entrance to Laguna de Términos, probably built after English pirates were finally eliminated from the area in 1718. A Mexican gun battery was here in 1847.

Champotón Fort ?
(1719 - unknown), Champotón, State of Campeche
Fuerte de San Antonio was built here on the south side of the mouth of the Río Champotón, located in Parque de las Américas.

Campeche Fortress
(1686 - 1870's ?), Campeche, State of Campeche
A 1.5 mile hexagonal stone-walled fortress with eight smaller forts (or redoubts) mounting 92 guns protected the city from pirate attacks. Founded in 1540, the city was attacked by pirates (English or Dutch ?) in 1663 and by the French in 1685. The fortifications were begun in 1686 and took 18 years to complete. This was a Mexican Army stronghold during the 1848 War of the Castes against the Maya Indians. The original walls and forts still exist today, some sections restored, and the entire old city section is a national historic monument and UNESCO world heritage site. This is the last remaining complete walled city fortress in North America. Fuerte de la Soledad is on 8th Street, three blocks north of the Puerta del Mar gate, and has been converted into a local museum of Mayan and colonial history (admission fee). Fuerte de Santiago faces the sea. Fuerte de San Carlos (1676), built on the site of an earlier fort (San Benito 1610 - 1663), is now a government-sponsored handicrafts market, with many underground passageways (most now blocked) to other buildings in the city. Guided tours for fee. The parapet still has period cannon mounted for display.

Outside the city walls to the west was built Fuerte de San Miguel in 1779, completed by 1782 with additional improvements in 1801. It is a large square bastioned fort located on a hill facing the sea. It is now home to the Campeche Museum of Archaeology (admission fee). Four other batteries were built in 1792 around the city, including Redoubt San Jose el Alto, located on Francisco Morazan Ave., Bellavista, now home to the Museum of Naval History and Armoury (admission fee).

Mérida Fortress
(1788), Mérida, State of Yucatan
The city was once surrounded by a hexagon wall with six redoubts, in response to pirate raids and Indian attacks. The walls were demolished about 100 years later as the city grew, but three gates (of 13) are still preserved. The Arco de los Dragones is located on Calle 50 at Calle 61, one block south of the Museo de Arte Popular. The city was originally settled by the Spanish in 1542 on the ruins of the Maya city T'ho. Stones from the Maya temples were used to construct the Spanish city, especially the Cathedral of San Idelfonso, built from 1556 - 1599, the oldest cathedral on the North American continent.

Cozumel Fort
(1526), Isla Cozumel, State of Quintana Roo
A Casa Fuerte was built here in 1526.

Bacalar Fort
(1727 - 1848), Bacalar, State of Quintana Roo
Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar, located on a hill east of the town square (zócalo), was built of stone in 1727, replacing an earlier wood and earthen fort. Completed in 1733 as a moated four-bastioned star. The town was founded by the Spanish in 1545 after the Maya Conquest. Destroyed by English pirates in 1628. The town was resettled and rebuilt by Canary Islanders in 1726. Attacked and taken by Maya Indians during the 1848 War of the Castes, the fort was left to ruin. The Mexican Army finally retook control of the town in 1901. The fort, reconstructed in 1938 and recently restored, is now a museum of local history and archaeology. Admission fee. The town suffered some damage from Hurricane Dean in 2007.
PHOTOS from Laguna
INFO and PHOTOS from Costa Maya

Mazatlán Fort ? ? ?
(unknown dates), Mazatlán, State of Sinaloa
An old Spanish fort is noted on some modern maps (Lookout Hill ?). No other information available. The city was founded by the Spanish in 1531, and became a port in the gold trade from inland mines.

San Blas Fort
(1770 - 1810), San Blas, State of Nayarit
The accessible ruins of an 18th-century Spanish fort, customshouse (contaduria), and church (Nuestra Señora de la Rosario - 1769), known as Fuerte de San Basilio (or Fuerte de la Contaduria), are located on a hill overlooking the town from the northeast. The ruins were damaged further in October 2002 by Hurricane Kenna. The town was once a shipbuilding center and the main supply center for the Californias and the Pacific Northwest settlements. This was Spain's main naval depot on the Pacific coast at the time, established in 1768.
PHOTOS by Bill and Dot Bell
See also The Naval Department of San Blas from CA State Military Museum
The Spanish Navy in the Californias during the American Revolution from CA State Military Museum

Chamela Fort
(unknown dates), Chamela, State of Jalisco
Founded in 1525 by the Spanish, this area later served as a fortified anchorage for the Philippines treasure fleet.

Guadalajara Army Barracks
(1903 - present), Guadalajara, State of Jalisco
A former Mexican Federal Army barracks, opened to the public in 1999 as the Museum of the Army and Air Force, operated by the Department of National Defense.

Isla Mezcala Fort
(1819 - 1855), near Chapala, State of Jalisco
Located on Isla Mezcala (aka Isla Presidio) in Lago de Chapala, south of Guadalajara, made famous during the Mexican War of Independence, when 1500 Mexican patriots (mostly Indians) held out against the Spanish for four years (1812 - 1816) in makeshift rock-wall defenses before hunger and sickness forced their surrender. Presidio del Isla Mezcala (aka Fuerte Mezcala) was built by the Spanish in 1819, who were impressed with the location, and used until Mexican independence in 1821. The island was later converted to a prison, which was closed in 1855. The fort was built as a large square with cylindrical bastions at each corner, surrounded by a moat. A stone blockhouse and a church are outside the fort proper. Many of the current structures were probably built as part of the prison complex. The island became a Mexican National Monument in 1974, and the fort / prison complex has recently been restored (2006-09), although without the benefit of any proper archaeological work (as reported in Mexican newspapers).
PHOTOS by Jim and Carole Cook
See also Lake Chapala During the Insurgency from Visit

Castillo de San Diego de Acapulco (English) ?
Official Website en Español
(1778 - 1910 ?), Acapulco, State of Guerrero
The original fort, a small pentagon with five bastions built in 1616 - 1617, was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1776. It was rebuilt and greatly enlarged in 1778 as a moated pentagon-shaped fortress with bastions at each corner. Construction on its present form was completed in 1784. All the sentry boxes were removed during restoration in the 1970's. Located on Calle Hornitos, on a hill east of the main square in Acapulco Viejo. Mexican patriot General José María Morelos attacked the fortress in 1813 during the War of Independence, the Spanish garrison capitulated after a four-month seige. Bombarded by French naval forces in 1863. In 1910 Mexican Federal forces defended the fort against the revolutionaries trying to take the city. Known today as Fuerte de San Diego. Located within the fort is the Museo Histórico de Acapulco (admission fee).

Nearby on Avenida Fortin, Cerro de la Mira, is Fortin Álvarez (1792), built to store gunpowder and weaponry for Castillo de San Diego. Admission fee.

The city was first settled by the Spanish in 1550. The first fortifications, originally a series of wooden and earthen ramparts to protect the city from English and Dutch pirates, were built after 1565 with the annual arrivals of the Philippines treasure fleet. The city was sacked by the Dutch in 1615.


NEED MORE INFO: El Fuerte in State of Zacatecas on the Río Aguanaval. "Laguna del Fuerte" on the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur near Guerrero Negro.
Any additional information on these and other sites will be greatly appreciated.

QUESTIONS ? Please send any corrections and/or additions to this list to:
"Updates" at

Latin American Forts