Skip to main content
El Camino Real (The Royal Road) Eastern Branch
Main Category
Sub Category
Date Created
Location Country
29.422853, -98.491287
San Antonio

Historically, a camino real (Royal Road) is defined as a road that connects Spanish capital with Spanish capital, a distinction not shared with roads connecting ordinary Spanish or Indian villages. The term Camino Real implied that the status and privileges granted to the villas and capitals it connected were extended to the main routes of travel through use by officials and others acting in the interest of the crown. Unlike ordinary Indian and Spanish villages, villas like San Antonio and others along the route had charters that prescribed royal privileges. An important factor under which a town received a set of privileges was its economic importance to a region, province, or colony. Similarly, the main road through the villa or series of villas enjoyed the privileges granted. Historically, royal roads connected economically important Spanish towns, capitals of provinces, and mines that possessed a charter prescribing royal privileges. 

As defined in the enabling legislation, El Camino Real de los Tejas was established to connect a series of Spanish missions and posts between Monclova, Mexico, and Los Adaes, the first capital of the province of Texas (in what is now northwestern Louisiana). The legislation also defines El Camino Real as an approximately 1, 000-mile long corridor of changing routes from Saltillo through Monclova and Guerrero, Coahuila, Mexico; San Antonio and Nacogdoches, Texas, and then east to the vicinity of Los Adaes in what is now Louisiana. It constituted the only primary overland route from the Rio Grande to the Red River Valley in Louisiana during the Spanish Colonial Period.

Running from Mexico to Louisiana, the El Camino Real-Eastern Branch was a major Spanish pioneer transportation artery that provided support, defense and political stability for early colonists.
Image Credit
Photo courtesy Orange County Archives.
Image Caption
The El Camino Real arches, located at Knott's Berry Farm in California. The arches are marked "El Camino Real: 'The King's Highway'"

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support America's only magazine of the history of engineering and innovation, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to Invention & Technology.


Stay informed - subscribe to our newsletter.
The subscriber's email address.