We stopped for lunch off of 101, in the small town of San Ardo, CA, on the Salinas River at the southern end of the Salinas Valley, Monterey County. An interesting contrast to the coastal metropoli: farming community, small cafe at a major road junction. Settled by Swiss (?) dairy farmers, prosperous when the Southern Pacific Railway station was here, and the old US 101 ran through town -- along Cattlemen Road after the new bridge was built in 1930. In 1971, the highway bypassed San Ardo. The railway station is completely gone. San Ardo feels fixed in another era.
The San Ardo Cafe used to specialize in Swiss food. A few years ago, it changed owners and switched to mostly Mexican food. Out of many items from the menu, they recommended the chile verde.
Earl, a fellow patron who farms potatoes down the road, sizes and packages them in San Ardo, and ships them by rail. He also farms vegetables. The other patron we saw worked in the oil fields south of town. San Ardo is five miles north of the San Ardo Oil Field, discovered in 1947.
Wikipedia: Elevation 449 feet, population 517 (2010). Land grant to MJ Brandenstein. (Swiss? Earl told me that the original settlers were Swiss (?) dairy farmers.) MJB laid out the town when the railroad got here in 1887, changing the name from San Bernardo the same year. In the 2000 census, of the 501 people, 2/3 were Hispanic or Latino. The median income for a household was $25k -- $31.5k for a family. I doubt if it is much higher today.
A quiet friendly town.
We continued north on the old Highway 101 for a while, up Cattlemen's Road, past the hovels for the migrant (?) workers a few miles out of town.
© Photography by Dan Quinn