The first mission in what is now the state of California was founded in San Diego by Spanish Franciscan friars in 1769. Over the next fifty years, Spanish missionaries established a total of 21 missions throughout California. They were connected by El Camino Real, also called the Royal Road or the King’s Highway. By 1850, when California became the 31st state of the Union, many of the missions had been abandoned and were in ruins. It wasn’t until the 1890s, when artists began portraying the missions as relics of California’s romantic past that a serious effort was made to preserve and restore them.