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Portuguese Footprints -- Everywhere You Look

Everywhere you look, you can find reminders of the Portuguese presence in California.

Years:  1815 — 2020

How often have you seen something that is a reminder of the Portuguese presence in California? It may be places like Souza Lake or Soares Gulch in Siskiyou County, named after Portuguese settlers in the area from the time of the Gold Rush.  Terra Linda in Marin County means “beautiful land” in Portuguese.  You may see the Lisbon Winery in Napa County or Portuguese Point in Butte County.  Portuguese Sheep Camp in Lassen County reminds us of the patient Portuguese shepherds who herded sheep in the hills and valleys.

Along the coast is Portuguese Point in Santa Barbara County and Vierra Canyon in Monterey County, along with Portuguese Bend in Los Angeles County.  These bring back memories of the Portuguese who, for many years, hunted whales along the cold shores of California.

You may pass a park with a name like Julio J Bras Portuguese Centennial Park in Hayward or Vieira Park in San José.  The San Francisco Bay Area was the center for the first Portuguese businesses in California and was where the fraternal benefit societies first located their home offices.

Churches in many communities were built by Portuguese immigrants and some carry names proudly proclaiming that connection.  Dairies and farms were established throughout the state.  In the Central Valley, you can find hundreds of dairies owned by Portuguese immigrants or their descendants.

In many communities, you will find commercial and business establishments with names like Cardoza Shopping Center in San Joaquin County.  In the southern part of the state is located the famous Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego and Santa Ysabel, named after the patron saint of Portugal.

Starting with the discovery of San Diego Bay by João Rodrigues Cabrilho, a Portuguese navigator sailing under the Spanish flag, to the last wave of immigrants that arrived from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, everywhere you look, you can find reminders of the Portuguese presence in California.

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