Kino's Contributions to World Cartography

"The proof of the peninsularity of Lower California and the mainland character of Upper California is merely one of Kino's many contributions to the geography and cartography of the north western frontier of Spanish America. It is Kino's best known discovery, or more correctly, his most widely publicized rediscovery.

Often overlooked are his numerous other contributions of a similar nature and of no less importance: the relative position of the main Colorado and Gila rivers; the correct location of the upper Sonora and lower Arizona streams, valleys and mountains; the rediscovery of the insular nature of Tiburon; the pioneer discovery of the Angel de la Guarda Island; a far more exact location of the Rio Grande del Norte flowing from New Mexico and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Most important, Kino prepares the way to rid Spanish American geography and its expression in world-wide cartography of the endless designations of non-existent, vague and shifting features and elements......

The chart [Kino's 1710 Map] was reproduced with great accuracy by the world's outstanding map-makers, geographers and historians, with the result that for over a century and a half it was the standard cartographical representation of northwestern Spanish America and southwestern United States."

Ernest J. Burrus, S.J. "Kino and the Cartography of Northwestern New Spain."


Kino's Maps 

Displayed in Reverse Chronological Order

Kino's Most Famous Map


Northern New Spain 1710


"California No Es Isla"


The idea in the early 1600s that California was the largest island in the world and located west of the North American continent was a product of speculation, imaginative fables including English privateer Francis Drake's accounts of sailing around the island. The world of geographers seized upon the idea, and almost for two centuries hundreds of maps were published depicting California separate from the mainland.

The idea persisted because it was almost impossible to explore the Gulf of California by sea or the Lower Sonoran Desert by land. After the Blue Shell Conference at San Xavier Mission called by Kino and his many trips into North America's equivalent of Africa's Sahara Desert to the Colorado River, Kino determined that California was connected to the mainland and wrote in his reports "California no es isla". His discovery was very important because the possilbe land route could encouraged the return of the Jesuits to the Baja and provided the prospect that Kino's bountiful missions of the Pimeria Alta could reliably and inexpensively support the barren missions of Baja.

Because Padre Kino had only observed the connection on land at the end of the delta, his maps were disputed for over 40 years until In 1746 Ferdinand Konsag sailed completely around the Gulf of California to confirm that Baja California was connected to the mainland. A year later the Spanish King issued a royal decree declaring that "California is not an island." in the 1770s. 

The Spanish settlement of the modern state of California would have been much more difficult without the efforts of Kino. It was very difficult for the Spanish to sail to California from Mexico because of countervailing winds and ocean currents and the devastation the scurvy on the sailors. Overland routes from Mexico via the Baja penisula and across the Sonoran Desert were California's lifeline.

Kino was a constant advocate for the Jesuit return to Baja after he and Atondo colonization effort ended because of possible starvation. Fourteen years after Kino left, Padre Salvatierra returned and Kino's Sonoran missions provisioned him.

Sixty years later California was settled by the Spanish by the Portola Expedition traveling up the Baja missin chain to San Diego and the Anza Expediion using trails that Kino blazed across the Sonoran Desert to settle the San Francisco Bay.

 Kino's Most Famous Map  1701
"Passos Por La Tierra a la California"
First Map Showing Baja Connected to The Continent Based on Exploration

Kino Determining Latitude

"At noon we reckoned the height of the sun (pessamos el sol) with an astrolabe, and I found (ha!le) it to be at fifty-two degrees. To this I added six and a half degrees to compensate for the south declination of the day, thus arriving at a total of fifty-eight and a half degrees. Now, the complement of this to make ninety degrees is thirty-one and a half degrees, which is the altitude of the pole or the geographic latitude of the place where we were."

Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J.
Enrty in Kino's Field Diary
March 3, 1702
Latitude sighting at the junction of the Colorado and Gila Rivers.


"Biography of Francisco Javier Saeta" Map 1697


Photographic Image Saeta Biography Map Set Out Above


Northern New Spain & Island of California 1696 


Part of the Island of California 1684
Royal Cosmographer of the Atondo Expendition (1683 - 1685)
Gulf of California and Baja California from La Paz to San Bruno - Kino's First Mission
Map drawn before Kino lead the first European crossing of Baja California peninusla.


Padre Kino 1685 Map
Before His Entrada into Pimería Alta

This map published in Europe was based on Padre Kino map drawn  in 1685.  It shows the lower part of the Baja California peninsula with information acquired by the Atondo-Kino expeditions including the first European crossing of Baja California (December 1684- January 1685). The approximate route of the first crossing was along a line that is slightly below latitude 26 degrees on Kino's map. Kino and the members of the expedition started at San Bruno on the Sea of California and then climbed over the La Giganta Mountains to the headwaters of the Rio de San Thomas (now Rio La Purisima). They then followed the drainage of the Rio de San Thomas to Gregorio Point on the Pacific Coast (not shown on Kino's map). For Map of Kino's route, click Exploration Baja & Gulf of California.

The map also shows existing missions and settlements on the Mexico mainland before Padre Kino made his entrada into the Pimería Alta which he started from Cucurpe. This map was redrawn and published in Europe in 1703 during Kino's lifetime and included in a famous world atlas.

 " California No Es Ysla .... "

Ronald L. Ives


Maps of western North America, prior to about 1700, were an unhappy mixture of fact and fancy, their content suggesting that inadequacies in available data were filled in by plagiarisms from Pliny and Pedro Martyr, with a few misunderstood Indian legends included for good measure. Typical of these early maps is that by Johanum Ogiluium (John Ogilvie), circulated in England about 1680. Here we find the west coast bordered by a large body of water -- the Strait of Anian -- across which is the island of California. From this and other maps of about the same date, many erroneous ideas of the coastline of North America were gained. This misinformation was particularly insidious because the same maps contained many correct and easily verifiable features.

Some of these fanciful geographies can be attributed to mistranslation of Indian narratives, so that tribal mythologies were interpreted as facts; some may have been due to mirages, still common on the shores of the Vermilion Sea (now the Gulf of California); and many were just plain lies, told by travelers to impress a credulous public.

Shortly after 1705, maps of western North America suddenly changed, and the mythical Strait of Anian, in company with many other imaginary features, was no longer found between what is now Arizona and our present state of California. In its place, the Colorado and Gila Valleys are shown with considerable accuracy, and the peninsular nature of Baja California is clearly shown. D'Anville's map, "Amerique Septentrionale," published in Paris in 1746, is an excellent example of these later maps, from which "lakes of quicksilver and of gold, etc." have been eliminated.

The cited maps represent the majority opinion in their respective periods. Some earlier maps did represent California as a part of the mainland of North America; and a few later maps show it as an island. The earlier "dissenters" apparently based their opinions on unproved data, such as accounts of the explorations by Melchior Diaz (1540-41) and' others; later "dissenters" chose to disregard plentiful convincing evidence.
Extensive field and library investigations disclose that most of the early maps (ca. 1700) showing Lower California as a peninsula, and Alta California (the present state) as a part of the mainland of North America, are based on the work of one man -- Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J. -- who, almost single-handed, produced incontrovertible evidence that California was not an island, but a part of the mainland. This evidence is summarized in his map "Passo Par Tierra a la California," drawn in 1701. A copy of this cartographic masterpiece, which is one of the most important maps in the history of North America, comprises Figure 1.(1)

So accurate is this map that no important part of it was superseded for more than a century and a half, and remapping of the entire area was not completed until the second decade of the twentieth century. (2)

For entire article, click on California No Es Isla

Note: This article was written one year before Kino's 1710 map was discovered in an archive in the National Library of Paris in 1962 by Ernest J. Burris, S.J.


Navigation Methods of Eusebio Francisco Kino, S. J.

Ronald L. Ives

One of our treasured legacies from the Jesuit mission era is the beautiful and famous map "Passo por Tierra a la California," drawn in 1707 by Eusebio Francisco Kino, S. J., known to history as "The Apostle to the Pimas": maker of Christians and builder of missions. So accurate is this map that it did not become completely obsolete until 1912, when Lumholtz' map "Papagueria" was published.

As might be expected, the Kino map was widely circulated and widely plagiarized during the early eighteenth century, so that many versions, many of them not credited to the original author, are now extant. Checking of this map against the best available today shows that all major features of Papagueria are shown in their correct inter- relations to a rational scale ("Leguas Castellanas"), that the latitudes are all correct to less than a degree of arc, and that the longitudes are all in reasonable proportion. And, as will be shown later, Kino had no way of making rigorous longitude determinations.

Field checking of the may amply demonstrates its practical utility.Almost any reasonably intelligent person using this map - and, in a few instances the descriptions from Kino's notes," or the substantially parallel Manje notes" -can recover any site shown on the map, usually within a few hundred feet. This was actually done by the late Herbert E. Bolton in retracing hundreds of miles of Kino's trails; and the present writer has had equal success in the lavas and sand dunes around Pinacate, where Professor Bolton did not go.

For entire article, click on Navigation Methods

Note: This article was written one year before Kino's 1710 map was discovered in an archive in the National Library of Paris in 1962 by Ernest J. Burris, S.J.


Aigenler's World Map Shown by Kino To The Sobaípuri People 

Kino's First Sermon with World Geography

 Mission San Xavier del Bac 1692

"I spoke to them of the Word of God, and on a map of the world showed them the lands, the rivers, and the seas over which we fathers had come from afar to bring them the saving knowledge of our holy faith. And I told them also how in ancient times the Spaniards were not Christians, how Santiago came to teach them the faith, and how for the first fourteen years he was able to baptize only a few, because of which the holy apostle was discouraged, but that the most holy Virgin appeared to him and consoled him, telling him that the Spaniards would convert the rest of the people of the world."

"And I showed them on the map of the world how the Spaniards and the faith had come by sea to Vera Cruz, and had gone in to Puebla and to Mexico, Guadalajara, Sinaloa, and Sonora, and now to Nuestra Senora de los Dolores del Cosari, in the land of the Pimas, where there were already many persons baptized, a house, church, bells, and images of saints, plentiful supplies, wheat, maize, and many cattle and horses; that they could go and see it all, and even ask at once of their relatives, my servants, who were with me. They listened with pleasure to these and other talks concerning God, heaven, and hell, and told me that they wished to be Christians, and gave me some infants to baptize. These Sobaipuris are in a very fine valley of the Rio de Santa Maria, to the west."

Eusebio Francisco Kino
"Journey Northward To The Sobaípuris"
"Favores Celestiales"
August 23, 1692

Kino's 1701 Map
The Congressional Record 1878 

"A map of the greatest importance in the history of Arizona and of California accompanies this memoir. This map is entitled entitled 'Passage par terre à la Californie déconert par le Rév. Pére Eusébe Francois Kino, Jésuite, depuis 1698 jusqu'à 1701, où l'on voit encore les Nouvelles Missions des P.P. de la Compagnie de Jésus." 

The map of Father Kino is not only very important on account of its giving with considerable accuracy the head of the Mer Vermeille, or Gulf of California but at locating and showing a great number of the villages, missions, pueblos, rivers and mountains of Sonora and of New Mexico (the part now known as Arizona) and of Lower California, or, properly, Old California.

Professor Jules Marcou
"Notes Upon the First Discovery of California and Origin of Its Name"
Annual Report of Lieutenant George M. Wheeler, Corp of Engineers
Executive Documents of the House of Representatives 3rd Session 45th Congress
Report of the Chief Engineer 1878
Editor's Note: Kino's 1701 Map set out opposite page 1649 in The Congressional Record.

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