|CA Historical Marker #344, about|
nine miles from Coalinga.
"14 miles [with a direction arrow] Arroyo De Cantua, Headquarters of notorious bandit Joaquin Murrieta. Killed here July 25, 1853 by posse of state rangers, led by Captain Harry Love. Terrorized mining camps and stage operations during his career. Historical Landmark No. 344. Department of Public Works - Division of Highways."Joaquin Murrieta. Well, you know who he is. Murrieta is arguably the most famous of California outlaws. He terrorized the state during the Gold Rush with lots of mythology growing over the years. For some Californios he was a Robin Hood character, avenging the Hispanic community for the wrongs brought by the invasion of Anglo-Americans. It is said that the story of Joaquin Murrieta was the inspiration for the fictional character of Zorro. To the state of California he was a ruthless bandit. The new state government raised a party of "California Rangers" to hunt Murrieta down. They caught up to him and some of his associates, including "Three Fingered Jack" at Arroyo De Cantua, or Cantua Creek. (Check the location link at the bottom of this post for a Google map link.) This spot is on the far west side of the Central Valley, the closest city being Coalinga, a community of about eighteen thousand which was not founded until almost three decades after the incident.
So why did they put the marker 14 miles away? The state Office of Historic Preservation doesn't say. On their website they say that the actual site is three large rocks located in the foothills southwest of Cantua Creek bridge. I admit I didn't go look for them. There are no roads to the site and the area is now private ranchland. However, I provide you a picture looking southwest from the bridge over the California Aqueduct in the area on the map marked as Cantua Creek. Yep, nothing but orchards out there. High lonesome. About twenty miles to Coalinga, and fifty miles back to Fresno.
|Looking southwest from the Aqueduct at Cantua Creek.|