Your photographs  from the “Black route West” project reflect in some small fashion (however inconsequential, as you have noted) man's imprint on the land.  Modern day cultural historians and archeologists like to call these kinds of places "cultural or historic landscapes".   The numbers of these areas that have been so designated in the U.S. with verifiable African-American connections is small when compared to the hundreds,maybe thousand that are known or speculated to exist.  This is what makes the work you are undertaking so important.   It puts an actual "face" or picture to these significant sites.  It may also spur further investigations into other potential sites that are almost certain to exist under the radar of current historical and archeological research. How many of us drive through the open vastness that is still part of the Trans-Mississippi West and actually associate any aspect of black existence, past or present, with the sites we see along the way?  

The historical and archeological investigative record of these areas,much like depictions in Hollywood westerns, has been whitewashed to strip away as much of the black, Native American, Latino, and Chinese

imprint as is possible.  Only within the last 20-30 years has any notion of any serious study of the ethnic nature of these landscapes been undertaken.  The results, as we have seen, have been startling.  Who would have guessed that the archeological study of slave quarters on Southern plantations would generate the interest that it has?  The New York City African burial sites have blown the lid off of our original conceptions of American slavery and spawned a whole school of archeological study.  All because scholars and interested individuals such as yourself are finally bringing these examinations out of the Ivory Towers of faceless universities and into the living rooms and bookstores of mainstream America. 

Here is some additional information on

Juana Briones taken from the Tennessee Hollow Watershed Project at Stanford Univeristy:

The next link sheds some light on Gregorio Briones, Juana's brother, and the owner of Rancho Baulinas (present day Bolinas) in Marin County.   A short excert from the site reads:  "Rancho Los Baulenes was granted to

Gregorio Briones in November 1845 by Governor Pio Pico. It extends around Bolinas Bay. Don Gregorio Briones' house stood on the west shore of the bay near an embarcadero; the house of Pablo Briones (son) stood

near the NE boundary line of the rancho".   You will need to scroll down roughly 3/4 of the page to get the information on Gregorio Briones. The other information the site contains on Briones and his contemporaries may be interesting as well.

The next site is a listing of California Ranchos by County.  This is helpful if you happen to know the names of African-Mexican Californios grantees and their connections to various parts of California.

Also, this book is the standard when it comes to the origin of California place names.  You can find it in most reference sections ofmyour good libraries:


A newer, albeit lesser revision of this book IMO is:

C. Caesar

California Cultural and Historical Endowment

California State Library

Clarence Caesar