El Fuerte

Sagrado Corazón de Jesús church
Sagrado Corazón de Jesús church

El Fuerte was founded by Francisco de Ibarra, a Spanish Conqueror back in 1564.  It was originally called San Juan Bautista de Carapoa.  A Franciscan mission was built in 1590  The town was later destroyed by the Indians and in 1610 the Viceroy of Montesclaros ordered the construction of El Fuerte (the fort) to protect the settlement from Indian attacks and guard the Crown's silver haul from local mines.  For some years it was the capital city of Sinaloa state.

The town served as an important commercial and missionary center for most of the colonial era.  Its history has been closely tied to the area's rich silver mines.  It was a station on Spain's fabled Camino Real trade route.   

Its current population is about 30,000, set along the banks of the Rio Fuerte and surrounded by large vegetable farms and orchards, serves as a departure point for east bound Copper Canyon visitors.  The town is very much in its primitive state with dirt streets and very little housing/business development.

El Fuerte has become a base for some of Mexico's best year 'round large mouth and black bass fishing.  In the town's center, is the colonial cathedral, Sagrado Corazón de Jesús and the Palacio Municipal. A stroll through the streets leads you past century old homes with carved stone facades.  A few blocks away is the Rio Fuerte, overlooked by the original Spanish fort (restored).

Some three centuries after its founding, El Fuerte is a place that truly bespeaks "old Mexico."  Still extant are numerous colonial-era homes, recalling the days when this was a prominent frontier outpost and the stepping-off point for the Spaniards who settled California and New Mexico.

El Fuerte page