French Colonial Santa Rosalia

En route from San Ignacio to Mulege´ we passed through French Colonial Santa Rosalia. A cute bustling little town. We made a brief stop to walk around a see a couple of historical places of interest.

But before getting there we needed to survive yet another section of terrifying road, “La Cuesta del Infierno” – The Grade from Hell!  Yikes!  This particular portion of the road has a steep and curvy descent for 2.5 miles, the steepest grade on the entire Mexico 1 Transpeninsular Highway.

We’d taken note of the steep climb for our return drive north but hadn’t thought much about the downhill headed south. But it was a very windy day and we figured the road would be narrow so we decided to not tow the car.  Hector drove Island Time and I drove the car. All was well but we will approach this section of road with great caution when we head north.Once down the big hill we were again greeted by a sweeping view the beautiful Sea of Cortez.  And soon thereafter we entered the little town with its large mining and port operation (and TERRIBLE road).

Santa Rosalia is home to the El Boleo copper mine.  Founded by the French Campagnie du Boleo in 1885 it operated continuously until the 1950’s when it shut down.

Unique to this area, there are many beautiful French Colonial structures that remain to this day. The mine resumed operations recently and the town just buzzes with activity.  Of particular note is the town’s very unusual church, La Iglesia Santa Barbara.  It was designed by the famed architect Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame and built in 1887. It was displayed at the 1889 Exposition Universelle of Paris where the famous tower also made its debut. A prefab structure built entirely of stamped steel sheet squares and supported by a massive steel structure, it was intended originally for Africa but it somehow wound up in Belgium instead where it was acquired by the wealthy owners of the El Boleo mine and shipped here in 1897.

You find the weirdest things in the strangest places!Another legacy of the French influence is a simply fantastic bakery, the Panaderia El Boleo.  An local institution in business since 1901 and still serving up French inspired baked yummies.

To our surprise once we paid for a bag full of croissants and other goodies (almost free) they encouraged us to have a look at the large ovens and kitchen area in the back.  There we found many ancient wooden cooling racks that had clearly seen countless trays of baked goods over the years.  Battered but sturdy they rolled by with fresh treats all in a row.

The ovens looked pretty big but we didn’t realize just how big until a lady grabbed what looked to be a giant oar from a viking ship and opened one of the oven doors.  The oven had to be 30 feet deep!  Wow!We did not plan to overnight here but thoroughly enjoyed our short tour of the town.

Onward to Mulege´ we go were we plan to spend the next week or so.

Thanks for following along!




6 thoughts on “French Colonial Santa Rosalia

  1. Have loved reading the updates of your Baja trip. We have talked about doing this next winter. Do either of you speak Spanish? I’ve been to the interior of Mexico for an immersion trip a few years ago and it was difficult at times to communicate.

    Thanks for being faithful bloggers…

    • We both speak Spanish. There are so many U.S. and Canadian visitors there that you can get along without it. But having a little knowledge of the language is always good. Glad you’re enjoying the blog, we plan to post some additional information at the end of our trip for those that are interested in visiting the area.

    • lol, the worst was truckers coming up from the opposite lane. They go by fast! Hector would grip the steering wheel really hard, I’ve only seen him look like that once before. Definitely better for a Class C than a Class A.

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