San Lucas

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

  • The town of San Lucas was established in 1886 as a direct result of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Alberto Trescony, a local sheep herder and cattle rancher, granted the Southern Pacific Railroad Company right-of-way and ten acres of land for a depot, warehouses, stockyards and driveways.
  • The Southern Pacific Railroad laid tracks through Rancho San Lucas in 1886 and the Southern Pacific Milling Company constructed a grain warehouse along the railroad.
  • There is some discrepancy about its name. Was it named in honor of Saint Luke or for the nearby Rancho San Lucas Mexican land grant? 
  • “By 1892, Julius Trescony, the former owner of the Half-Way house owned 42,000 acres in teh SAn Lucas area of south county and raised cattle, sheep and barley. (Anderson)
  • The town was prosperous. It had a school, three church buildings, hotel, livery stable, blacksmith shop, a butcher shop, garages, barber shop, soft drink parlor and amusement room, stock corrals, post office, real estate office, city water works, no saloons, two fraternal lodges, as well as other large businesses. A grain warehouse stored and shipped about ten thousand tons of grain.
  • It became the main trade center for the neighboring areas of Lockwood and Jolon, to the west, and Pine Valley and Long Valley to the east.
  • Much of the original town of San Lucas burned and was not rebuilt.
  • There is a story about what happened to San Lucas’s prosperity….’”before Prohbition, they had something in California known as “local option”. And San Lucas voted to be dry and King City voted to b e wet, and San Lucas immediately went down…”
  • From the 1930s to 1970s, HIghway 101 ran through San Lucas on Cattlemen’s Road and because of the combination of two lanes, no passing zones, and dangerous dips, it was known as “Blood Alley” or “Death Road”. 
  • In 1972, this part of the original HIghway 101 was the last stretch of the old two-lane road to be re-routed. Highway 101 now runs about a couple of miles to the west of town.

Today:

  • In the 2010 census, the town had about 269 people.
  • It is located about 5 miles off of HIghway 101. There are no services or commerce. 
  • This tiny little town qualifies as a Disadvantaged Community.
  • The town has challenges.
    • When I first visited the town, the library was closed because of asbestos. It has been rebuilt.
    • There is no park. Instead, someone placed an old couch under some Eucalyptus trees by the side of the road. On that warm, summer afternoon, the couch was occupied by a sleepy, albeit, tough-looking woman.
    • One of today’s biggest challenges is obtaining clean drinking water. Private landowners and the public are coordinating to make clean water available to the citizens.

Books and References

Anderson, Burton. The Salinas Valley: A History of America’s Sald Bowl. Monterey County Historical Society. 2000.

Cengel, Katya. Not a Drop (of Tap Water) to Drink in San Lucas, California. Aljazeera America. Ocotber 12, 2014. http://america.aljazeera.com/features/2014/10/california-watersanlucas.html

Clovis, Meg.  Monterey County Parks Reconnaissance Survey of Agricultural Resources in The South County Planning Area 2008-2009. Certified Local Government Grant. October http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/home/showdocument?id=37921

San Bernardo Rancho and the Southern Salinas Valley, 1871-1981: oral history transcript/ and related material, 1930-1982. by Rosenberg, Margaret Barbree. ive; Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office; Teiser, Ruth; Albaugh, Reuben

Wikipedia. San Lucas, California. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Lucas,_California

HIghway101.com. The New home of Don Wilson’s Highway 101 Project. http://www.historic101.com/San%20Lucas/main.htm