Monday, February 15, 2010

Day Trip, Hwy. 1 North to Harmony

We were expecting another glorious weather day here on the Central Coast of California, so we went off on a little road trip.  This time we decided to travel North on Hwy. 1.  Leaving Pismo Beach, you drive north on Hwy. 101 until you reach San Luis Obispo.  Here is where you take the turn off for Hwy. 1, which is a very scenic route that hugs the coastline, whereas Hwy. 101 turns inland and you don't see the ocean again for a long time.

We had 3 main stopping points, which will give me 3 days worth of blogging opportunities.  With our usual picnic lunch tucked in the back cargo area of the Explorer, and Annie riding in her favorite spot, we were on our way right after breakfast at McDonald's.

Once we got to San Luis, we made the switch to Hwy. 1 and before long we saw the giant Morro Rock to our left.  The artsy town of Cambria is about 18 miles north of Morro Bay and just south of Cambria is the tiny town of Harmony, California.  We decided to pull off the highway just to take a look at the town that claims a population of only 18.

Some of the latest figures place the population at 24 and, yet, others still say it is 18. 
This community was settled in the mid 1800's as a dairy settlement by Swiss immigrants.  In 1869, the town was officially founded around several dairy ranches and a creamery.  The businesses changed hands many times due to repeated rivalries, which led to a killing.  Finally, in 1907 the townsfolk called off the feud, settled their differences, and renamed the town "Harmony".  

At it's peak, the creamery employed 10 people.  Tourists would stop along this town on Hwy. 1 to purchase fresh, cold buttermilk.  William Randolph Hearst was one of those folks stopping for a drink.  Business began to dwindle and the creamery closed in 1955.  The population decreased until the 1970's when the town was rediscovered by a California counter-culture population seeking a place to work on arts and crafts in a rural setting.  

Restaurants and shops opened and were successful for a time before business fell off again.  Today there is Harmony Cellars operating with a wine tasting room and gift shop.  There is also a tiny shopping plaza (as they call it) with a Pottery Shop and a room with historic artifacts from the Harmony Creamery days (but it was closed).

Scenes from the town include.......(click on photo for a larger view)

An abandoned home with an outhouse across the street.

This is the plaza area which was pleasant and shady. 
This old bicycle was now being used as "art".
This is the Pottery Shop.  We didn't need any pottery.
This is the refurbished creamery building, which had been turned into a U.S. Post Office until it closed for good on April 11, 2008.
We saw only one other tourist couple in town and nobody else was to be seen.  Before getting back in the car to continue our trek north, I snapped this pic of their larger town sign.   Harmony....a nice little town, but not one we plan to settle in.

Until next long for now!


Paula Rodriguez said...

Hello Margie. I was so excited reading our post. I knew exactly the area you were describing just before reaching Harmony. Love the pictures. What a life.... just driving on the road...

Thanks for the advice on limiting points. I know its not the best idea but I do need to create calorie deficit.

The weather in California was just beautiful this weekend.

Gypsy said...

Really pretty little town, and it's a shame to see them go by the wayside or turned into a collection of artsy and expensive shops.

Jerry and Suzy said...

Margie -- we've been to Harmony, years ago. Bought a beautiful nearly 3-foot tall pottery vase there. Neutral base color, but a blue iguana was wrapped around it. We were taken immediately, and paid what I would consider an exorbitant price (for my budget, at least) for it. No question, we had to have it. Our younger daughter has it somewhere at her place now, and when we visit them this spring, I'm going to try to sneak it out of their house into the motorhome and bring it back to the desert. Along with the grandfather clock I built so many years ago.

Rick and Paulette said...

Thanks for posting the great pics and the story about Harmony. We missed that place when we drove the same highway earlier this year so it was great to read your blog about it. Next year, we'll make a point to stop and have a look for ourselves!