1840: Richard Henry Dana anonymously publishes "Two Years Before the Mast," detailing his seafaring adventures along the coast of California. (Later editions carry his name.)
1842: Francisco Lopez discovers gold in a Santa Clarita canyon, the first authenticated such find in the state. About 100 prospectors show up, many of them from Sonora, Mexico, but the find plays out quickly and the rest of the world barely notices.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, July 01, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 59 words Type of Material: Correction
Mexican California: An article in Sunday's Travel section said gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in 1849; it was discovered in 1848. An accompanying article stated that Pio Pico became the first native-born governor of Alta California under Mexican control in 1832. The first native-born governor of Mexican Alta California was Luis Antonio Arguello, who took office in 1822.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, July 06, 2008 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 3 Features Desk 1 inches; 60 words Type of Material: Correction
Mexican California: A June 29 article incorrectly reported that gold was found in 1849 at Sutter's Mill; it was found in 1848. A sidebar box stated that Pio Pico became the first native-born governor of Alta California under Mexican control in 1832. The first native-born governor of Mexican Alta California was actually Luis Antonio Arguello, who took office in 1822.
May 1846: U.S. declares war on Mexico and invades California. When Mexico City fails to send troops, Pico hastily sells off land to finance an army of Californios. But by July 1846, Pico has given up and fled to Sonora, close to Mexico City.
December 1846: Californio troops win the Battle of San Pasqual, killing 18 U.S. soldiers -- their last victory.
Jan. 13, 1847: The Treaty of Cahuenga ends the fighting in Southern California.
Jan. 24, 1848: Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill in Colona, prompting an influx of thousands of prospectors and immigrants from the U.S., Europe, China and elsewhere. In the next two years, California's non-Indian population jumps from fewer than 20,000 to more than 200,000.
Feb. 2, 1848: Under threat from U.S. troops in Mexico City, Mexican leaders agree to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, giving up more than 525,000 square miles, including California and several neighboring states, in exchange for about $18 million. (Word of the gold at Sutter's Mill reaches Washington and Mexico City weeks or months later.)
September 1850: California attains statehood.
Planning this trip
THE BEST WAY
The drive is about 410 miles from Los Angeles to Sonoma, 70 miles from Sonoma to Sacramento, 190 miles from Sacramento to Monterey and 325 miles from Monterey to L.A. San Diego is about 125 miles south of L.A.
WHERE TO STAY
Amber House Bed and Breakfast Inn, 1315 22nd St., Sacramento; (800) 755-6526, www.amberhouse.com. Quaint 1905 Craftsman home on a mostly residential street. Doubles $169 to $279.
Pacific Hotel, 300 Pacific St., Monterey; (800) 554-5542, www.hotelpacific.com. Confusing layout, but central location. Rates $149 to $609.
The Cliffs Resort, 2757 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach; (800) 826-7827, www.cliffsresort.com. Nice bluff-top seaside location. Doubles $139 to $399.
Best Western Hacienda Hotel Old Town, 4041 Harney St., San Diego; (800) 888-1991, www.bestwesternhacienda.com. About 200 rooms spread over eight buildings. Doubles $189 to $250, plus $5 resort fee.
WHERE TO EAT
Maya, 101 E. Napa St., Sonoma; (707) 935-3500, www.mayarestaurant.com. Bright colors, loud music, busy bar. Faces the plaza. Entrees $10.95 to $24.50.
Zocalo, 1801 Capital Ave., Sacramento; (916) 441-0303, www.zocalosacramento.com. Mexican cuisine. Entrees $12.50 to $18.50.
Stokes Restaurant, 500 Hartnell St., Monterey; (831) 373-1110, www.stokesrestaurant.com. Setting is a stately, pink adobe dating to about 1840. My dinner had service snafus and mediocre food, but others have raved. Dinner only; entrees $15 to $30.
Casa Guadalajara, 4105 Taylor St., San Diego; www.casaguadalajara.com. Festive setting with big courtyard. Entrees $9.95 to $29.90.
TO LEARN MORE
California State Parks, www.parks.ca.gov, has information on the historic parks. Admission fees are typically about $2 per adult. Tours frequent and usually free. Often, paying one fee entitles you to enter other state sites nearby.
To see three videos and a photo gallery that go with this story, go to latimes.com/mexicalifornia.