Representation of Chumash Rock art, as shown on Neighborhood Arts Council mural, Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo

   Site  by Lynne Landwehr © 2004   






   Features and Information:

1909 Chamber of Commerce Booklet
for the City and County of
San Luis Obispo
(continued/second portion)

     "....The business section with its bituminized streets and substantial structures fairly mirrors the success which has attended the businessmen of San Luis Obispo in the past.  Merchants of the town carry stocks of goods which can meet every demand.

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     "Located in an amphitheater formed by spurs of the Coast range of mountains, ten miles from the Bay of San Luis, San Luis Obispo has the full benefit of the pleasant trade winds, in this latitude, gentle breezes, and the warm interior air, the combination of the two making a distinctive and nearly perfect climate, one of the most delightful to be found anywhere.

     "The Pacific Coast Railway Company provides convenient transit to the ocean, connecting with steamers at Port San Luis nine miles distant, and handles large shipments of the county’s products, which find their way by water transportation to the markets of the world.  This railroad’s lines extend southeasterly to Los Olivos in Santa Barbara county, passing through the fertile valley of Arroyo Grande and penetrating an attractive and productive region.

     "The curving shores of San Luis bay were first sighted by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (1542) and named by him “Todos Santos,” or All Saints bay, and here was built, in 1860, the first rude wharf, near that curious and picturesque arch of rocks known as Cave Landing.  

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     "Under the shelter of Point San Luis on the northern shore of this same bay, the Harford wharf was constructed a few years later, and Port San Luis of today is one of the prominent California ports, where the United States government long since established a first-class lighthouse and has nearly completed a breakwater which has converted a splendid natural harbor into one of the most accessible and best protected ports on the Pacific Coast.

     "The glorious stretch of beach at Pizmo [sic] is unsurpassed on the American continent.  Ten automobiles could race abreast twenty miles down its smooth hard surface.  Its surf is seldom boisterous, it has a safe harbor for pleasure craft and the mild temperature of the water and an abundance of the largest and most luscious clams that ever tickled epicurean palate, are features which make for the development of the greatest seaside resort in California.

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     "Pizmo beach has been referred to as the finest beach in America.  A magnificent trip is the drive from Point Sal via Oceano along this beach to Pizmo, thence up the canyon via San Luis Hot Springs to San Luis Obispo, or vice versa—a combination of sea and mountain, beach and canyon.

     "El Pizmo is the resort town of the great beach.  A hotel and cottages have been built at a cost of $100,000, and a station established.  A tent city has added to the attractiveness of the resort, which has rapidly attained great popularity.

     "Avila on the shores of the San Luis Bay is destined to become a famous resort in the near future.  It is between Cave Landing and Port Luis, and the new public wharf has just been completed there.

     "The local improvement club has provided free camping grounds, with free water piped to same; also free public bath-houses with floats etc.  San Luis Creek, a picture of which is shown elsewhere in this book, empties into the bay at Avila.  During the season, there is good fishing for an infinite variety of finny tribes [fish species].

     "The beach at Avila is no so long or broad as at Pismo, but is a good safe beach for bathing, and will soon become one of the noted resorts on the Pacific Coast.

     "The breakwater at Port San Luis, formerly Port Harford, is to be completed at a cost to the United States government of $262,000.

     "Port San Luis is now considered the best natural harbor on the Pacific Coast, except San Francisco and San Diego, and with the completion of the breakwater it will then be unexcelled anywhere.

     "The government realizes the importance of the shipping industry at San Luis Bay, which is the greatest oil shipping port in the country.  Every day there are two or three oil boats loading at Port San Luis; the construction of the public wharf has been completed at Avila; the Californian Petroleum Refineries Limited has completed its wharf and Plant at Oilport and the oil is already being shipped from there.

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     "This is a splendid advertisement for this section of the state and the wave of progress is becoming stronger and stronger every day.  There was never a time in the history of San Luis Obispo when the prospects were brighter than they are today.

     "Inside the northern rim of central California stretches the undeveloped empire of San Luis Obispo County, with resources and capabilities making it naturally the most favored section of the Southland.  In extent it equals the combined areas of Rhode Island and Delaware, though in population the difference is so great that it appears a wilderness.  With a soil which grows in abundance every variety of temperate and semi-tropical vegetation; blessed with a climate unexcelled for healthfulness, moderation and productiveness; possessing a geographical location unrivalled for commerce and transportation, San Luis Obispo county claims a capacity for the sustenance of a population second to no equal area in California.

     "A vast majority of the people of the East long to visit this land of perpetual summer, of flowers and fruit—the ideal land where they can enjoy health and happiness and comfort and now the fulfillment of that vision of youth that still comes to them in hours of reverie.  Unlike most cherished ideals, there exists a reality to this—it is possible of being verified.  And why should it not be?

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     "Ten thousand thrifty, energetic, and intelligent farmers could establish themselves in this county today under the most favorable circumstances.  Land values are reasonable—in fact, low.  There are thousands of good locations for choice fruit and grain farms, stock and dairy ranches.  These unimproved lands command a price small in comparison with the incomes derived from adjoining farms, dairies, and orchards.  The home here carries with it many of the advantages of a new country without the disadvantages of frontier life.

     "Throughout this county are many prosperous homes made so by the profits of the dairy.  With but little capital other than industry, skill and care, the settler may become wealthy through the production of butter and cheese and its marketable incidentals thereto, as cattle, hogs, and poultry.  many newcomers begin by leasing cows and land.  In such cases, after paying all expenses, the renter can safely figure on a net profit of $20 per cow as payment for his labor. Many dairymen, who began as wageworkers in this county, are today worth $50,000 to $100,000.  Cheese making is also very profitable, and most large dairies make cheese at least a portion of each season.

     "The valleys afford exceptional advantages for diversified farming.  There is no better place in California for small farms, wheat fields, pastures, orchards, vineyards, poultry yards, and similar industries—supporting prosperous communities of intelligent agriculturists—than within its boundaries.  While its intelligent farmers have made a great success of wheat farming, they have paid but little attention to its great advantages in certain lines of intensive agriculture—the growing of field crops.

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Click here for a 1905 newspaper report on a record-breaking threshing operation similar to that in the thumbnail photo above.

     "The climate is specially conducive to the growth of the best feed; the moisture from the ocean constantly keeping the vegetation in good condition; there being no necessity for irrigation.  The trade winds make the climate warmer in winter, keeping off frosts and freezing weather.

     "The soil produces astonishing yields per acre of alfalfa, beets, barley, carrots, pumpkins and squashes, and it is only a matter of time when more modern methods will make twenty-dollar land worth fifty dollars, a fact which is beginning to be appreciated by a number of enterprising dairymen, as is evidenced by the increased output of certain ranches.

     "As an example of what can be produced on a small ranch: An easterner located here three years ago and purchased seven acres.  He built a home and tested for the best varieties of berries.  The following winter, berries and vegetables were planted and his income was more than $800.  Last year his income exceeded $1,200. 

     "A three-acre vineyard produced over $800 last year; one acre of potatoes produced 300 sacks which sold for $1.75 per sack. 

     "Towering 573 feet above high tide, El Morro is sighted. It was named by Cabrillo on his northward voyage, in 1542, and stands today an imposing record of seismic upheaval marked by a curious series of seven cone-like peaks that extend twelve miles inland, terminating in the mitered Cerro Obispo, which overlooks the city of San Luis Obispo.

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     "Morro bay is really a narrow lagoon, its clear tides cutting five miles inland to meet the crystal streams of the Chorro and Los Osos.  Here is a favorite summer resort for campers, many people making long journeys from the San Joaquin valley to enjoy a few weeks of boating and fishing on the placid surface of the bay, and the delightful tonic of sea-bathing. 

     "Five miles north is Punta de los Esteros, where picturesque Cayucos has grown up and thrown out a long wharf to accommodate the steamers that handle the product of the immense dairying industry centering there.

     "Near the northern line of the county is the Bay of Sardines, San Simeon, where the growing commerce of a prosperous section centering around Cambria, ten miles to the south, is handled by coast steamers.  Cambria is known as a mining town, but its large export of butter and cheese identifies it with the prominent industry of the coast region, dairying.  Some of the most profitable farms of the county are found in the fertile Santa Rosa valley, which extends from Cambria southward about six miles.  The rich soil produces remarkable crops of beans, corn, potatoes, onions, pumpkins and apples, and an increasing acreage is being devoted to the culture of English walnuts which demonstrates the adequate and assured rainfall and equable climate of this section. 

     "Considerable forests of pine flourish on the adjacent foothills, and two sawmills are turning out a large quantity of merchantable [sic] lumber.

     "Metal production in this section is confined principally to quicksilver.  The most important producer, the Oceanic mine, five miles southwest of Cambria, is equipped with modern reduction works of about 100 tons daily capacity.  Since the earliest exploration of this property, it has been considered very promising, and the energetic development undertaken by the present owners is demonstrating a gratifying extent and richness of the ore body.

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     "A large deposit of cinnabar is being blocked out at the Pine Mountain mine, west of San Simeon, and when the furnaces of this company are equipped and operating, the county will add another large producer to its list of paying mines.

     "Development work is being vigorously prosecuted on a number of other promising prospects, and Cambria is the main base of supply for this industry.

     "Tributary to Cayucos are eighty thousand acres of the best dairying country in California.  From the broad mesas fronting the ocean, the land rises gently to the base of the mountains, and level and slope alike are clothed with nutritious grasses stimulated to remarkable growth by ocean moisture and fertile soil.  Butter tests of cows fed on the native grasses alone have exhibited such large percentages that feeding from silos is almost unknown, and a very small acreage is devoted to forage crops for stock....

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