1840 Map of Pismo Beach area



This is a copy of the map Jose Ortega submitted in 1840
with his application for the land grant for
"the place known by the name Pismo."


These documents are on file at the National Archives. The originals are in Spanish.

The Pismo grant included most of present day Pismo Beach,
all of Grover Beach, most of Oceano,
and a great deal of Arroyo Grande.


Some items of note on the map are:

The arroyito boundary on the north at Spyglass Ravine.

The stone corrals (animal pens) are shown at the canyon now called Price Canyon.

An old corral is shown on the Arroyo Grande.

The old road from San Luis Obispo to Nipomo
comes through Pismo from behind the Shell Beach hills.


The Boundaries

Its boundaries were, roughly, from Spyglass Ravine in Shell Beach on the north, to the woods of Arroyo Grande creek on the south. Then along the Arroyo Grande from the Oceano Lagoon to about Strother Park on Huasna/Lopez Dr. It was bounded by the ocean on the west, and a line traversing the hills and canyons on the east.

The easterly boundary line was from about present day Strother Park on Huasna/Lopez Drive, over the hills and through the big curve in Price Canyon Road, through a canyon/valley behind Pismo Beach, and up a canyon on the backside of the Shell Beach hills, to the northerly boundary which come out of the hills at Spyglass Ravine.


Spyglass Ravine - Arroyito de las Encinas

Spyglass Ravine was called the arroyito de las encinas, ravine of the live oaks. The path of the landowners and surveyors of the boundary line through the ravine was a trail that traversed the Shell Beach hills through this canyon and ravine. It connected the coast to the valley behind the hills.


El Camino Real

The 1840 road through Pismo was not where present day US Highway 101 is, nor State Highway 1. Surprisingly, it also did not go through upper Price Canyon where the oil fields are.

It is shown on this and other very old maps as coming from Mission San Luis Obispo by way of Edna Valley (South Broad Street) about to what is now the airport. It then entered the hills at what is now Davenport Creek Road and came through a pass in the hills to a valley behind Shell Beach. Following Cuevitas Creek along the back of the Shell Beach hills it turned southerly and joined Price Canyon in the area where today you find the distinctive big curve in the road. Following the north bank of Pismo Creek from there, it went to the beach.

On old maps, it is shown variously as "La Purisima Road," "Santa Barbara Beach Road," and Santa Barbara Road." The piece behind the hills was sometimes called "Cuevitas Road." In the late 1880's the Davenport Creek section was called Sand Hills Road.

The road to San Luis Obispo from the beach at Pismo is shown on old county maps as "County Road No. 5."

This pristine piece of the Footpath of the Padres is currently an unabandoned county road, locked at Davenport Creek Road and Price Canyon Road by private gates.


Sale of the land grant:

Jose Ortega sold Rancho Pismo to Isaac Sparks in 1846. The tale persists that Sparks won it in a card game. Perhaps the sale was agreed to in a card game; however, Sparks purchased the rancho from Ortega.

Sparks paid Ortega 430 head of cattle, which he had his mayordomo John Price deliver to Jose Ortega, and he also gave Ortega $375.00 in credit for goods to be acquired at his Santa Barbara store.

Sparks later sold part of Rancho Pismo John Price and part to David Mallagh.

John Price's Rancho Pismo was assembled from part of the original Ortega Rancho Pismo that he acquired from Sparks, in addition to parcels of Rancho San Miguelito to the north which he acquired from the Avilas.


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Last edited September 19, 1999.