|The Earliest traces of human habitation in the Todos Santos area date back 3,000 years ago to “Matancita Man” the defleshed and painted remains of a tall male who lived at least 75 years on a vegetable and animal protein diet. The first spaniard to sight the oasis, Jesuit padre Jaime Bravo, found nomadicGuaicura availing themselves of the inland water source and collecting shellfish along the coast.
Padre Bravo established a farm community and a mision de visita called Todos Santos here in 1724, to supply the water-poor community at La Paz with fruits, vegetables, wine, and sugarcane. By 1723 Todos Santos was producing 200 burro-loads of panocha (raw brown sugar) anually, along with figs, pomeganates, citrus, and grapes. Two years later deeming the local Guaicura amenable to misionization, Padre Sigismundo Taraval founded Mision Santa Rosa de las Palmas at the upper end of the arroyo about 2 km inland from the Pacific. Taraval fled to Isla Espirutu Santo near La Paz following a 1734 native rebellion, and the mision returned to visiting-chapel status the following year.
Anglo whalers visiting Todos Santos in 1849 praised the town as “an oasis” with “friendly and inteligent people.” In the post mision era, Todos Santos thrived as Baja’s sugarcane capital, suporting eight sugar mills by the late 19th century. While carrying out a survey of Cape Region Flora for the Califonia Academy of Science in 1890, botanist T.S. Brandegee commended one of the areas beauty and bounty. During this period handsome hotels, theatres, and municipal offices, and homes for painters and sculptors were built.
Sugar prices dropped preciptously following World War II, and all but one mill closed when the most abundant freshwater spring dried up in 1950. The remaining mill closed in 1965, though smaller houshold operations continued into the earlt ‘70s. The town faded into near obscurity.
Around 1981 the spring came back to life, and the arroyo once again began producing a large variety and quantity of fruits and vegetables. Three years later, Mexico 19 was paved between San Pedro and Cabo San Lucas, opening Todos Santos to tourists and expatriates for the first time.
This is an excert from Moon Handbooks Baja