Thursday, May 8, 2014

Los Olivos and Los Alamos

On my trip to Santa Maria, to take pictures of  Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, CA, I also stopped in Los Olivos and Los Alamos.

Los Olivos had a population of 1132 as of the 2010 census.

Around 1880, on a bluff overlooking Alamo Pintado Creek, just north of the town of Ballard, a two-story house was built, with a wide covered front porch and neatly symmetrical arched windows in the center gable, situated on prime farmland.  This was the property of twenty-two year old Alden March Boyd of Albany, New York.  In 1885, he paid $8,000 for 157 acres, together with the house.  He planted five thousand olive trees, and called it Rancho De Los Olivos.  On November 16, 1887, the Pacific Coast Railway line extension from Los Alamos was completed.  The developers of the narrow-gauge railway originally named their town El Olivar, then El Olivos and finally Los Olivos, after the nearby ranch.

Los Olivos was connected by the narrow gauge railroad to points north as far as San Luis Obispo until the train made its last run in 1934.  The southern terminus of the of the railroad was in front of Mattie's Tavern, where a stagecoach line continued over San Marcos Pass into Santa Barbara.  The tavern is still in operation, and is one of the highlights of the area, with a well respected restaurant and historic charm.

Los Olivos is renowned for its wineries and tasting rooms.  Starting in Los Olivos and stretching north is the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.

Los Alamos had 1890 people at the 2010 census, which was up from 1372 people in the 2000 census.

In 1839, Jose Antonio de la Guerra received the Rancho Los Alamos Mexican land grant.  The hills above Rancho Los Alamos served as a hideout for bandit, Solomon Pico, whose escapades were popularized by the character "Zorro".  During the USA's centennial year of 1876, Thomas Bell along with his nephew John S. Bell and Dr. James B. Shaw, who were all from San Francisco, purchased acreage from Rancho Los Alamos and neighboring Rancho La Laguna.  Both families allocated a half square mile from each of their new ranches to create the Los Alamos town site with "Centennial Street" as the central thoroughfare.

The Los Alamos Valley prospered and grew quickly serving as a popular stagecoach stop from 1861-1901.  The Union Hotel opened in 1880 to serve overnight travelers.  The narrow-gauge Pacific Coast Railway also ran to Los Alamos from San Luis Obispo between 1882-1940.  Oil was discovered at the Orcutt field in hills north of Valley in 1901, and in the Purisima Hills south of the valley at the Lompoc Oil Field in 1903.  The town flagpole at Centennial and Bell Street was dedicated in 1918.  The Chamber of Commerce was active from 1920-1932 and instrumental in forming a lighting district, obtaining telephone service, street paving and mail service.  The people who live there today still pick up their mail from the Post Office downtown, as no street delivery is available.

Los Alamos is also home to the last standing Pacific Coast Railroad Station, which at present houses the Depot Antique Mall, the town's main attraction.  The Depot Mall is one of the largest antique malls in the area with more than 60 dealers.

The Victorian Mansion was built in 1864 and moved to its present location in 1980.  Expert craftsmen, artisans, and artists spent almost 10 years creating the 6 theme suites inside.  Hidden bathrooms, spiral staircases, a  cannon coffee table, an Egyptian sarcophagus, a chariot and a 1956 Cadillac convertible are just a few of the things that are inside the Mansion.  Each of the 6 theme suites includes hand-painted murals and tiles, a romantic hot tub for two, a fireplace, a DVD player with classic films of the era, and a complimentary breakfast which will appear in the morning through your own private food butler.

The Union Hotel is a historic 1880's stagecoach stop.  As you enter the Hotel, you step back to a simple yet elegant era.  The authentic Union Hotel offers room accommodations, period decor and full country breakfasts.