Looking Back at San Felipe

San Felipe, Baja, Mexico

San Felipe, Baja, Mexico has a multifaceted past. Due to the richness of its resources, the early abundance of the sea and the unparalleled beauty of the surrounding scenery, a good many politicians and businessmen have bent an ambitious eye toward its offerings. Over the years of its evolution great plans have been made to shape San Felipe into a land developer's dream, a sports fisherman's mecca, an off-road racer's ultimate challenge, a gambler's dream and a tourist's first choice for a vacation resort. None of these goals have met with complete success and there is no obvious reason why they have not.

The first wholesale encounter between San Felipe and the industrialized world was with a group of German seamen. The Chinese living in the Guaymas area had fished out the totuava, a large bass-like fish prized for its bladder by the people of China. The Germans, seeking a more available supply, discovered a rich source off the San Felipe coast. They removed the bladders and disgarded the rest of the fish, up to 200 lbs. of wasted meat. Rumors of the operation spread and a few enterprising Americans made the difficult journey to San Felipe where they purchased the fish remains for the remarkable price of twenty pounds for an American penny. They started a business by driving ice-trucks to San Felipe, loading them with totuava and taking them back to the US where they were sold as "sea-bass".

About this time, Coronel Esteban Cantú Jiménez, who was governor of the District of Northern Baja from 1915 to 1920, made a number of expeditions south from Mexicali in an effort to locate sources of gold and silver.

It was Coronel Cantú's engineers who designed the first road to San Felipe. Cantú immediately recognized San Felipe's potential and made several attempts to develop the area. But limited finances always seemed to keep his goals short of realization.
Ernest Cantu's Expedition
A Col. Ernesto Cantú expedition to San Felipe cerca 1918

Once a graded road existed, it was inevitable San Felipe's rich secrets would eventually be discovered by the rest of the world. In 1947, former Mexican president Abelardo L. Rodríguez contacted the American sports fisherman Ray Cannon and asked him to test-fish the waters of the northern gulf. Rodríguez by that time had extensive real estate holdings in San Felipe and, like Cantú before him, was interested in developing the area. Within three years of Ray Cannon's report, a paved road existed between Mexicali and San Felipe. Of course, a steady stream of anglers and tourists immediately followed and San Felipe took its first step toward becoming a tourist town.

Afro-Mexicans have played an important role in the history of California. Read this for more information.