San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is the governmental center of a California county with the same name. The city contains many historic and noted places including Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, California State Polytechnic University, Avila Beach, Diablo Canyon Power plant, and The Madonna Inn!
San Luis Obispo is the largest city in the county with a current population of about 47, 550 people. It is a beautiful and historic town nestled near the coast about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The city was founded on September 1, 1772, when Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the fifth of nine missions established by the future Saint. A total of twenty-one missions were eventually established by the Catholic Church throughout California.
California, or Alta California, was part of the Spanish controlled territory which eventually became Mexico. Between 1769 through 1823 Father Serra, and others, established missions that were meant to convert native California Indians to Christianity. Father Serra established nine such missions including San Diego de Alcala (1769 in San Diego), San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (1770 in Carmel), San Antonio de Padua (1771 in Jolon near Ft. Hunter-Liggett), San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (1772 in San Luis Obispo), San Juan Capistrano (1776 in San Juan Capistrano), Santa Clara de Asis (1777 in Santa Clara), and San Buenaventura (1782 in Ventura).
California State Polytechnic State University began as California Polytechnic School in 1901 when Governor Henry Gage signed legislation establishing the school in San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly went on to become part of the California state college system, which is one of the twenty-three state universities.
Cal Poly began as an agricultural school where a variety of courses leading to degrees in agricultural fields were taught. Through the years, while maintaining its strong commitment to things agricultural, it has become a vital contributor of students entering realms of study like engineering, mathematics, architecture, education, and business.
The huge Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is located outside the city in Avila Beach California. The plant was commissioned on May 7, 1985, and is the only nuclear-powered plant still operating in California. Most of the 1,500 employed at the plant live in or near the city of San Luis Obispo.
It is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The plant’s Westinghouse PWR, Pressure Water Reactors, are cooled by water from the Pacific Ocean, as it produces electrical power for about six-cents per kilowatt as opposed to more than ten-cents per kilowatt paid by PG&E for electricity from other suppliers.
The Pacific beach at Avila Beach is a favorite destination for Cal Poly students seeking a break from their studies.
Although not the only hotel located in San Luis Obispo, the Madonna Inn, from a postcard collector’s point of view is the best known. The hotel opened for business in 1958 and was built by Alex Madonna, a successful construction businessman and his wife Phyllis.
The 1,500-acre site includes a gas station, bakery, steak house, bar, and a beautiful hotel facility consisting of 110 rooms and 28 suites. Each of these rooms is individually decorated in a unique theme.
Mike Roberts of Berkeley, California, has produced many postcards showing the various rooms at the Madonna Inn. These cards are often found for sale both online and at postcard shows and shops.
San Luis Obispo is a beautiful, historic, and restful place to stop while traveling between Los Angeles to San Francisco. Its location and climate make it special for those of us who have the privilege of living there.