Welcome to Santa Margarita! As a business owner celebrating 25 years in and a resident for 30, I’ve come to know and love our tiny town and I’d like to take a moment to welcome you and explain what makes this small town a very special place.
Every area is unique in its own way. Geographical location, natural environment, history and community all come into play to shape and mold each into what it currently is and what it will be in the future.
NOT to be confused with the very young planned city of Rancho Santa Margarita (pop. 47,853) incorporated in Orange County in 2000, you can find the town of Santa Margarita (pop. 1,259) located within the County of San Luis Obispo, at the southern end of “the North County” and a mere 10-minute hop away over the Cuesta Grade from the city of San Luis Obispo just off Highway 101. The current “downtown” is centered on a portion of road which has multiple names, mainly three (but if you ask certain locals there are a few more).
When traveling to Santa Margarita, the main street happens to be a portion of the historic El Camino Real (The King’s Highway) running north/south; the western end of State Route 58, which stretches east to Barstow; in addition to being named “G” street (as established by the original town map of 1889). Having one stretch of road with three names is always fun trying to explain to visitors and there are many stories of confusion with Rancho Santa Margarita (a roughly 5-hour, 279-mile drive away) including “that time when a bus full of a high school football players arrived looking for the football field to play the local team” or “that time when a semi-truckload of new cars was looking for the dealership” … oops!
The original inhabitants were likely drawn to the idyllic Santa Margarita Valley by the bounty provided through its year-round running streams, abundant wildlife and acorn-producing oaks and was used by the northern Chumash and southern Salinans as a gathering place. Years later, in 1769, the area saw the arrival of the Spanish exploratory expedition of Gaspar de Portola accompanied by Father Junipero Serra who established nine of the eventual 21 Spanish missions, including Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded in 1772 and soon after it’s associated asistencia (assistance or sub-mission rancho). It is believed that this mission rancho was named in honor of Father Serra’s mother Margaret and favorite patron saint Margarita de Cortona of his birthplace in Spain.
Due to its geographical location and hospitable environment, Santa Margarita has long been and continues to be a special place that welcomes and brings people together, from early Native Americans to the missionaries and beyond to present day gatherings.
Be on the lookout! Next month, I plan on filling the historical gap between the Mission days and present day Santa Margarita.
Upcoming gatherings in Santa Margarita for September
- Sept. 3 – Final Summertime Margarita Monday Community Potluck in the Park – 6-9 p.m.
- Sept. 14 – An Evening in Santa Margarita – 5-9 p.m. – Enjoy music, food, drinks and crafts while strolling through town. Hosted at local business locations, this event benefits and supports the Friends of the Santa
For more information about the history of Santa Margarita, visit www.santamargaritahistoricalsociety.org.
You can also follow Santa Margarita on Facebook by searching for @SantaMargaritaCA.