Misión Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Norte
Padre Félix Caballero established the last of nine Dominican missions (1834–1840) in Baja in 1834, 24 kilometers east of the next closest mission (San Miguel), above the Río Guadalupe. The missions were already on the decline at this point, but the new settlement became a successful farm and ranch with 400 indigenous people under its tutelage, if only for a few short years. The mission ruins are not recognizable today.
After the Mexican government secularized the mission properties, a group of Russian pacifists called the Molokans (milk drinkers, who abstained from drinking alcohol) fled the Russian Orthodox Church and purchased the land surrounding this settlement to start a new colony in 1905.
The original families planted crops and vineyards, raised livestock, built adobe houses, and went about their simple way of life.
In 1938 then president Cárdenas seized all foreign-owned property in the country, and 3,000 Mexicans arrived to take over the colony, renaming it Francisco Zarco. Only a few of the original Russian families stayed in the area, but the area retains a Russian look and feel. Some of the Molokan homes have survived the years, and tombstones in the town cemetery have Russian inscriptions.
The neighboring Museo Comunitario del Valle de Guadalupe (10 A.M.–6 P.M. Tues.–Sun., by donation) and Museo Histórico del Valle de Guadalupe (10 A.M.–5 P.M. Tues.–Sun., by donation) display historical artifacts such as clothing, photos, and tools. To find the cemetery (across from the Monte Xanic winery) and museums, turn off the highway at Francisco Zarco and follow the paved road to its end. Turn right and go another 150 meters.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition