San Luis Obispo County conjures up images of gorgeous beachfront landscapes, world-class vineyards, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, and our one-of-a-kind farmers markets. What do not usually come to mind are images of American Presidents touring those same world-class landscapes. Very few know that San Luis Obispo County has been the destination of six of our nation’s chief executives and several other presidential candidates.
President Theodore Roosevelt visited the place we call home, twice – once in 1901 and again in 1903, saying, “I know that the largest pumpkin, watermelon and onion came from here, so that your agricultural products have made a name for themselves to be feared.” He toured the Mission San Luis and then made a short stop in Paso Robles.
Just months before his assassination in 1901, President McKinley stopped in San Luis Obispo at The Ramona Hotel to deliver a rousing speech, despite his wife being very ill.
1930 saw a visit to Cambria from former President Calvin Coolidge, in which he stated that his trip was “Marvelous. The highway to Mr. Hearst’s Estate embraces a most wonderful stretch of scenery. Cambria Pines offer wonderful attractions.” He was simply amazed by the beauty.
In 1962, then-Gubernatorial candidate Richard Nixon made a stop in San Luis Obispo surrounded by a group of Cal Poly coeds with the self-proclaimed title “The Nixonettes.”
During President Reagan’s first run for office in 1976 he trotted through Paso Robles on horseback and most recently, President George W. Bush visited the area.
In addition to visits by America’s chief executive, we have seen presidential candidates Bob Dole and Walter Mondale.
The beauty of our home, San Luis Obispo County, is unsurpassed in any way, but it’s more than what meets the eye. We live in a place that presidents of the greatest nation on earth came to visit and mingle amongst our own. It is humbling to look at history and see that these great people saw the value of the place we call home.
Oh, and just for the record: Republicans 6, Democrats 0. Not like we’re counting, though.