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An ancient set of Indian paths and the natural flow of the Gila River created a major artery for travel through pioneer Arizona. The Gila provided a ready route for the earliest traders, including Toltecs of Mexico, who traded with the Mogollon, Anasazi, and Hohokam.


The intrepid Padre Francisco Garces performed missionary work during his excursions along the trail, while Bautista de Anza and Marcos de Niza also passed by. Various U.S. survey expeditions, seekers of the California gold fields, and immigrants—such as the ill-fated Oatman family—joined the list.


The journals, stories, songs, and art that came from these travels is rich and revealing of our state’s pioneers. 

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Frequent flooding of the Gila River eventually led to the Coolidge Dam in 1927.

The military often used the trail along the Gila River, and painters captured their adventures.

"Love the music! Such a neat mosaic of Arizona through sight and sound! Kept my attention and was unique from other AZ Humanities programs."       Attendee, Apache Junction Library

"Spectacular slide show. Loved the music!"

     Attendee Ed Robson Library

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Along the California Trail

Adventures following the Gila River

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