Mission Trail Today - The California Missions

#13, Nuestra Sonora de la Soledad

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All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2003 - 2011.

Select photographs of my many visits to The California Missions built by Spain and Mexico between 1769 and 1823.
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#13, Nuestra Sonora de la Soledad.
Founded October 9, 1791
by Father Fermin Lasuen.

Personal Observations

Mission Nuestra Sonora de la Soledad was the thirteenth mission founded in Alta California, and possibly the unluckiest, at least is was the least successful. Mission Soledad has been one of the more neglected missions by the restorers. The only missions less restored are those that have been swallowed by urban growth. Soledad is in the middle of open farm land. What was once a quadrangle, now only one side of the quadrangle and the church exist as buildings. Three sides are now low melting piles of adobe. Maybe it was appropriate that storm clouds hung over the mission the first time I saw it.

The first time I visited Mission Nuestra Sonora de la Soledad was Christmas day in 2003. The mission was closed and my wife sat in the car as I photographed the mission in the rain. It was the most peaceful mission experience I have had, just me and the rain. We returned two days later when the mission was open and I again photographed the mission, this time in sunshine.

Mission Nuestra Sonora de la Soledad is about six miles off Highway 101in the middle of open farm land. Mission Soledad is not a large mission but well worth a stop. The complex consists of the church and an adjacent building which contains the mission museum and gift shop. The rest of the small site contains the ruins of other buildings.

Mission Art & Photo-Art


Dedicated to Our Lady of Solitude, Mission Nuestra Sonora de la Soledad was established on a sun baked, wind swept raise of land. The land was productive with irrigation water from the Salinas River, a river that three times threatened to destroy the church in 1824, 1828, and 1832. The wind is almost constant, the summers are hot and dry and the winters are cold. The rooms were described at damp, cold, and gloomy. The mission was not popular among the missionaries and few stayed long. Almost 30 padres were assigned to Mission Soledad, most staying only a year.

The area was sparsely populated and construction and conversion progressed slowly. Disease devastated the native population who lost confidence in the new imposed religion, and many fled. Construction of the church required six years. Flooding of the nearby Salinas River three times destroyed the church, once, in 1832, during a reconstruction from a previous flood. The mission never recovered from this third flood.

The mission was productive agriculturally and eventually spiritually as 2,000 baptisms and 700 marriages were performed.

Following the death of Father Vicente Francisco de Sarria, the mission declined and fell into disuse. Over one hundred years of decay were suffered by the mission until the Native Daughters of the Golden West began restoration in 1954.

Address and Directions

36641 Fort Romie Road
Soledad, CA 93960

Exit US Highway 101 at Arroyo Seco Road, west. After about one mile, turn right onto Fort Romie Road, follow the zig-zag about two miles. Watch for the Mission on the left. Watch for the signs.

Photography Gallery

Front of restored mission buildings. Photo date: 12-25-03.

Mission as seen from the driveway. Photo date: 12-25-03.

Church. Photo date: 12-25-03.

One side of quadrangle. Photo date: 12-25-03.

Photo date: 12-25-03.

Photo date: 12-25-03.

Photo date: 12-25-03.

I miss my pet chickens and always enjoy seeing these animals. Photo date: 12-25-03.

Cross. Photo date: 12-25-03.

Fountain. Photo date: 12-25-03.
Ruins. Photo date: 12-25-03.
Indian Workshops
At first glance, this looks like something out of Monument Valley. Then a closer inspection shows that it is a four foot high adobe wall, slowly melting in the rain. How appropriate that it was raining as I photographed the wall. Photo date: 12-25-03.
Blacksmith Shop
This was once the Blacksmith Shop. Photo date: 12-25-03

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This page last updated: Sunday, 11-Aug-2013 02:44:04 EDT
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