Atascadero, California

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Atascadero is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California, about equidistant from San Francisco and Los Angeles on U-S Highway 101. Atascadero is farther inland than most other San Luis Obispo County cities, and as a result, usually experiences warmer, drier summers and cooler winters than neighboring cities such as San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. Nearby CA Highways 41 and 46 provide easy access to the Pacific Coast and the Central Valley of California. The current population is around 29,000. The brainchild of mega-entrepreneur E.G. Lewis, Atascadero is the result of nearly a century of organic community evolution. It is an amalgamation of rolling hills studded with oaks; historic buildings; quaint lake park and zoo; enclaves of artists, musicians and writers; all surrounded by visitor vistas and wineries.

Contents

History

Atascadero is a Spanish word loosely translated as bog, from the verb "atascar" which means to become stuck or hindered.

The area was originally home to the Salinan Indians. In the half century between 1769 and 1823 the Spanish Franciscans established 21 missions along the California coast, including the nearby Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and California became a Mexican province. In 1833, the Mexican government secularized the mission lands. Mexican Governor Governor Juan Alvarado granted Rancho Atascadero to Trifon Garcia in 1842, and Pio Pico granted Pedro Estrada Rancho Asuncion in 1845. Patrick Washington Murphy held ownership of 61,000 acres (25,000 ha) at one time.

Edward Gardner Lewis, a successful magazine publisher from the East, founded the community of Atascadero in 1913 as a utopian, planned colony. He had previously created such a community, at University City, Missouri. After purchasing the Atascadero Ranch in 1912, Lewis put together a group of investors from across the country, paid J.H. Henry $37.50 per acre ($93/ha), and celebrated acquisition of the ranch on July 4, 1913. As investors came to homestead the land that they had bought with their down payments, the area was transformed into a "tent city" with tents situated on land now occupied by Century Plaza and Bank of America. Lewis employed the services of experts in agriculture, engineering and city planning to develop his dream colony for the anticipated 30,000 residents. In 1914 the land was surveyed and subdivided. Thousands of acres of orchards were planted, a water system was installed, and construction began on an 18 mi (29 km) road (now Highway 41 west) through the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains to the ocean (Morro Bay), where Lewis built cottages and a beachfront hotel called the Cloisters.

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