The Founding of Modern-Day Ensenada

“The border line seemed to disappear in 1886, opening a bi-national zone.”

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316. [MAP]. INTERNATIONAL COMPANY OF MEXICO. Map of Colony Carlos Pacheco, including the Ranches Ensenada, Cipres, Maneadero & Puntabanda, Surveyed for the International Company of Mexico. By Rich. Stephens, C.D. [Mexico? International Company of Mexico, 1886]. Lithograph promotional map showing Town of Ensenada, Todos Santos Bay, colony with numbered plots, coastlines and waterways in blue, neat line to neat line: 69 x 78.4 cm; overall sheet size: 73.3 x 82.5 cm, relief shown by hachures, scale: 11 meters = 350 meters. Light wear to blank margins and a few slight separations not affecting map proper. The only copy recorded by OCLC is a photocopy at the Bancroft. An original is in the Orozco y Berra Library in Mexico.

     First edition. Not in standard sources, although Barrett (Baja) records several maps and promotional items relating to the International Company in ventures in Mexico and Alta California. This rare promotional map for the Carlos Pacheco Colony in Ensenada on Todos Santos Bay dates after 1881, when Carlos Pacheco served as Secretary of Development which put him in charge of policies concerning colonization and settlement. Pacheco (1831-1891), Mexican politician and soldier who participated in many of the internal conflicts of the country and the struggle against Maximillian, later became governor of Puebla, Morelos, and the Federal District, in addition to other political offices.

     David Piñera (American and English Influence on the Early Development of Ensenada, Institute for Regional Studies of the Californias, San Diego State University, 1995) gives a good overview of the early development of Ensenada at the time of this map, which is illustrated on p. 91 of his study:

During its initial stages as a city, Ensenada was influenced strongly by the Americans and the English. Its urban development and economy, as well as several other substantial aspects of its existence as a human community, depended to some extent on foreign companies. This influence began in 1886, four years after Ensenada’s foundation, and continued for fifteen years, leaving a deep and lasting impression. The American and English episodes took place during a period of economic expansion of the United States that was underpinning England’s worldwide supremacy. Baja California bordered on the United States and the Americans considered the peninsula to be part of its area of influence. Thus, the involvement and competition of English and American companies in early Ensenada aroused considerable interest in the United States, in England, and in Mexico....

Ensenada’s location, so close to the border between the United States and Mexico, gave this urban development a special dimension. Most importantly, Southern California’s real estate boom of the 1880s reached Ensenada. American land promoters saw the convenience of expanding California’s profitable real estate market south of the border. The border line seemed to disappear in 1886, opening a bi-national zone homogenized by the same economic dynamics. In this atmosphere, Ensenada emerged in Baja California as a land development site for American clients just as California cities such as Escondido, Coronado, National City, and Chula Vista had resulted from the real estate boom north of the boundary. Along the entire U.S.–Mexican border, there is no other case of such strong American influence in the origins of a Mexican town as can be seen in the example of Ensenada.

     The International Company of Mexico was formed primarily by American investors but included a mix of both British and Mexican parties as well. Despite the promising beginnings of the Company in the development of Ensenada and the surrounding territory, all did not go as smoothly as planned. Although in 1887 Pacheco defended the Company’s practices in response to alarms raised in Mexico City newspapers about the Company’s influence, a report by an independent inspector raised doubts about the Company’s operations. Whatever the case, it was obvious that farming out colonization and settlement to private companies proved to be far more efficient than government efforts and was not going to lead to a new “Texas” problem, as some feared. In the late 1880s prices collapsed as a result of the decline of gold mining in the interior at Real del Castillo and for the most part brought an end to the Company’s activities in this area. Whatever problems may have existed, the modern city of Ensenada owes its founding to this Company and is now the third largest city in Baja California.


Sold. Hammer: $275.00; Price Realized: $336.88.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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