Mission San Luis Obispo is a Catholic mission in the city of San Luis Obispo, California.
How many times have you driven down Highway 101 at Broad Street and seen the ‘State Historical Landmark Mission San Luis Obispo’ sign, thinking to yourself, “We really ought to go see the Mission sometime.”
Connie Pillsbury is a freelance opinion writer who writes for The and the Paso Robles Press. She can be reached at [email protected]
The 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Mission by Franciscan Priests from Spain, Father Junipero Serra and Father Jose Cavaller, falls in 2022. San Luis Obispo was not part of Spain’s initial intention to populate Alta California via the founding of missions, presidios, and pueblos, which is unique to the Mission tale. San Diego, Carmel, San Antonio, and San Gabriel were the first four missions to run out of food, and the experiment was on the verge of being abandoned. However, grizzly bears were discovered in what is now known as Los Osos, or ‘the valley of the bears,’ and their meat essentially rescued the missionary activity.
With the discovery of the meat-providing bears, Father Serra added Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa to the network. The original location, near the junction of Stenner and San Luis Obispo Creeks, was drowned out and relocated upstream. The second site flooded as well, forcing the third and final position to be chosen as the ‘highest’ place along the stream. The fascinating story of the construction of California’s oldest significant structure continues from there.
We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero
The remainder of the tale will be told by Mission Docents during the first 250th commemorative event on Sunday, February 20, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which is free and open to the public.
With docent-led tours every half hour, the outdoor courtyard celebration will allow you the chance to see the Mission. Music, genuine cuisine, spinning and weaving demonstrations by local weavers, Native American basket display, branding exhibit, and more will provide visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to get to know the Mission in just one visit.
Children will find activity booths with Native American games, bead crafting, and pictograph painting strewn across the garden. The Bell Tower provides a bird’s-eye perspective of Mission Plaza and San Luis Creek for the whole family.
All of the mission ranching activities were based in Santa Margarita de Cortona Asistencia, which was a sub-mission of San Luis Obispo, which was significant to those of us in North County. Thousands of longhorn cattle roamed the North County plains, foraging along the Salinas Riverbed. Not only did the cattle offer meat, but they also supplied costly skins known as “California Dollars.” The skins were transported by oxcart to what is now Avila Beach, where they were soaked in saltwater and sold for commodities for the Mission with Yankee, Asian, and Russian ships.
The 1776 De Anza Expedition, which consisted of 200 colonists on their way to establish a Spanish colony in the San Jose and San Francisco districts, is also significant to North County. With their livestock and cattle, families, and belongings, the company paused at Mission San Luis Obispo for several days of respite before proceeding up the mountain to follow the Salinas River north.
Many people in North County are unaware that the country they live on was part of Spain for 300 years, from 1541 until 1822. Mexico became the second tenant of this region known as Alta California after the revolution of 1822. The Mexican Ranchero period lasted 26 years, with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo terminating it in 1848.
California became the third nation to control the land we live on and call home when it was accepted to the United States as the 31st state in 1850. Understanding the rich history of Spain and Mexico’s involvement in Alta California enriches the current living situation.
On February 20, attend San Luis Obispo’s 250th Courtyard Celebration to immerse yourself in that heritage via genuine cuisine, music, and hands-on learning!
As an example:
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