A Spanish expedition in search of Monterey Bay led to the sighting of the San Francisco Bay in 1769 from atop Sweeny Ridge in Pacifica. To mark the 250th anniversary of this event, plans are happening to tell the story of the expedition and of the native people who greeted the Spanish warmly and whose lives and culture were nearly eradicated within a few years.
A San Mateo County effort is underway, led by the Ohlone-Portola’ Heritage Trail (OPHT) Committee (more info here), to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Portola Expedition, with a goal of designating a 90-mile trail that traces the steps of the Spanish expedition and highlights the native people they encountered. This would include National Historic Trail designation at the County, State and Federal levels.
To complete this trail, segments of the California Coastal Trail and Juan Bautista de Anza Trail along the route will be implemented as part of this project. Research will be done to understand the region’s Native American stories of their homeland to secure the necessary funds and inspire public and private support.
A group including City staff and committee members, as well as interested members of the public and local organizations has been working on identifying and creating Pacifica-specific OPHT related tasks, direction and achievable goals, including building momentum towards the 2019 event. This strategy includes:
- Collaborate with the County on the OPHT project initiative
- Organize events and/or activities related to the anniversary/project (see working list/calendar below)
- Partner and coordinate with key organizations, groups, schools and businesses who are interested in participating, producing or promoting events
- Communicate and promote the events through partners and organizations
Articles and Documents
- Ohlone Day—October 26, 2019 at the Sanchez Adobe . This event will celebrate the completion of the Interpretive Center and commemorate the first contact the Ohlones had with the Spanish Explorers of the Portola' Expedition and include a Speaker Forum – Discussion on Ohlone-Portola sponsored by the San Mateo County Historical Association. For complete details of this event go to
- Ohlone-Portola' Heritage Day - November 2, 2019, 10am-3pm at the Pacifica Community Center. Commemorating 10,000 years of Ohlone settlement in San Mateo County and the 250th Anniversary of the Portola' Expedition sighting of San Francisco Bay.
Activities for the day will include hikes to the Sweeny Ridge site both before and after the opening ceremony which is scheduled for 11:00 am-12:00 pm. The ceremony will feature an Ohlone land acknowledgement, resolutions from dignitaries, and the presentation of the Ohlone-Portola' Heritage Mural. Food will be available for purchase.
- 8:30am - Morning Hike to the Bay Sighting - Limited space, call 415-561-4323 to RSVP
- 10-11am - center open to the public, partner agency tables, activities
- 11am - welcome ceremony/program, speakers, proclamations and mural presentation
- 12-1pm - partner agency tables and activities
- 1pm - Historical program and panel discussion
- 2pm - afternoon hike
- 2:30 - second afternoon hike if needed
- 3pm - center closes
- Pacifica Coastside Museum - author of Alta California, Nick Neely will be a special guest speaker on Sunday November 3rd, 1pm.
- Educational presentations to schools, groups, clubs and organizations will happen throughout the 19/20 year. A "traveling trunk" (First Contact) is available through the San Mateo County Museum for rent.
Articles, Documents, and Links
Statement of Historical Significance
Building the Great Ohlone-Portola' Heritage Trail
Ohlone Portola Flier
Ohlone-Portola' Heritage Trail - A Journey of Many Stories - Recognizing Pacifica's Role
Ohlone-Portola' Trail Project to Mark History
GGNRA Sweeney Ridge
Sweeney Ridge Trail Map
Pacifica Historical Society Reinventing Ohlone Cuisine for Modern Times. Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino have learned to understand the traditional uses of the native plants and their Ohlone homelands. They will speak about the immense benefits these foods have, from deeper cultural understanding to stronger health. – March 31, 2019
San Mateo County Fair—June 8 thru June 16: San Mateo County Historical Association along with partner organizations will have a booth during the San Mateo County Fair.
Presentation on The Gaspar de Portola' Expedition of 1769 - June 15, 2019, 1-2pm: San Mateo History Museum 2200 Broadway, Redwood City, Court Room A. More information available here.
Sanchez Art Center – July 12-Aug. 11, 2019, weekends – Along the Ohlone-Portola Trail, Plein Air. Thursday, July 18, 6:30-8:30pm, Gallery Walk/Trail Talk; Sunday, July 28, 2-3:30pm Native California Canoes and Rafts with Peopleologie (Tickets $10 on Eventbrite)
- Pacifica Coastside Museum – "The First Coastsiders" history exhibit - tells the fascinating story of the past and present of the Ohlone people - Pacifica's first residents. The exhibit opening on February 15, 2019 was very well attended with two showings of thedocumentary film "In the Land of My Ancestors." You can view the film's trailer here . The "First Coastsiders" exhibit will be incorporated into the permanent collection as part of the Pacifica Coastside Museum's upstairs exhibit space.
- Millbrae Art and Wine Festival —August 31 and Sept. 1: OPHT booth sponsored by Millbrae Historical Association.
- Gaspar de Portola' Historical Marker Dedication - September 7, 2019, 10am at Canada Road in Redwood City approximately 1/4 mile south of Edgewood road.
- Pacific Coast Fog Fest– September 28-29, 2019. Look for the OPHT booth on the street. The Pacifica Historical Society will participate in the Fog Fest parade, Saturday, the 28th Pacifica Coastside Museum will be open during the Fog Fest, one block from the Festival.
- "What is the Ohlone-Portola Heritage Trail?" - Pacifica Coastside Museum - reception and presentation, Friday, October 4th, 6:30 to 9pm, the Grand Opening of the OPHT exhibit. Doors at 6:30, program at 7pm. Sam Herzberg from the San Mateo County Parks Department will present information about the Ohlone-Portola' Heritage Trail.