Gold Rush is famous in United States History, but as most California
educated people will tell you the school children here learn of
the discovery of California by the Spanish, and the construction
of the missions by the Indians under the direction of the fathers.
We do not so often hear about the garrisons which accompanied
them, but as a visitor to the La Purisima in Lompoc you may see
the soldiers' quarters.
first mission was established in 1769 in San Diego. They stretch
along the coastal regions of California from San Diego to Sonoma
above San Francisco. They are placed about a day's walking distance
apart. San Luis Obispo County has two missions. One is in San
Luis Obispo and the other in San Miguel. Both towns derive their
names from the mission names. Mission San Antonio is located on
the Ft. Hunter Liggett military base in southern Monterey County,
and is well worth the visit also.
Barbara County has three missions, one in Lompoc called La Purisima,
another in Solvang called Santa Ines, and the last in Santa Barbara
whose name is also Santa Barbara.
San Luis Obispo the mission is in the center of town as part
of the plaza. The plaza also has the San Luis Obispo Art Center
and the San Luis Obispo County Historical Society Museum.
missions of the Central Coast have adobe walls and tiled roofs.
The story goes that the first roof of the mission in San Luis
Obispo was straw, but the Indians set fire to it. The fathers
then resorted to having tiles made which would not burn. The fountain
and the archways along the inner walkway are another feature common
to many of the missions.
temperature inside these walls are cooler than the summer heat.
Often the rooms of the living quarters are small. The ways in
which they cooked, wove, and carried out their daily lives is
quite different from our fast paced life of California these days.
Purisima is the only mission which is
run by the State Park system. As with other the missions, it has
been destroyed and rebuilt. This particular mission was moved
further from the river and continues to have new construction
and reconstruction. The gardens contain original grapes and trees
of the Spanish fathers. It also has a fenced area for livestock.
La Purisima has the flavor more like that of the earlier times.
Most of the missions are now parts of towns and cities; so this
particular mission, though it is off the beaten track, is one
well worth the visit.
San Miguel is still very much in use,
and is just off highway 101 north of Paso Robles. It has a good
museum, garden, and facilities for picnicking. There are abundant
camera shots in this quiet setting.
mission on the Central Coast has its own charm. Visiting them
can be a rewarding adventure and bring more understanding to the
tourist just how our history varies from most of the other states
in the United States.
books about the California missions are available in libraries,
bookstores, and at the mission shops in the Mission Country of