It wasn’t until 1697 that the Jesuits founded the first permanent mission in Baja California Sur, and twenty-five years later, Todos Santos was established as a mission outpost to the Misión de Nuestra Señora del Pilar in La Paz.
With its underground aquifer and lush tropical setting in the middle of a desert, Todos Santos was a literal and figurative oasis. Thanks to the fertile ground, it flourished. The families that cultivated it—Santa Ana, Villarino, Dominguez, Salgado—raised livestock, harvested fruits and vegetables, and transformed Todos Santos into the sugar cane capital of Baja.
Todos Santos thrived for nearly two centuries until revolution, drought and WWII brought the downfall of the cane sugar industry. When the sugar mills closed in the early 1950s, many local families were forced to seek opportunity elsewhere, leaving the town isolated and hollow.
But some things never left. Todos Santos is still the natural, historical and architectural wonder that earned its designation as a Pueblo Mágico. And indeed there is a spell, one that has drawn people in for hundreds of years. Now that the economic drought is over, sustainable small production farms grow where the sugar cane once did, and the magic remains. And in the last two decades there has been a quiet resurgence as people discover that magic once again.