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Dominguez-Escalante Expedition, 1776

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On July 4, 1776, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, the Spanish friars Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Silvestre Velez Escalante set out to find a route to Monterey, California through the uncharted northwest reaches of New Spain. As the friars followed the route of Juan de Rivera over old Ute trails into Colorado and Utah, they met and traded with Utes and other Native Americans and named many landmarks. The expedition never reached California, as the friars decided not to test the formidable Sierra Nevada Mountains during winter and returned to Santa Fe in January 1777.

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