Pine Mountain has been important to the community even before E.G. Lewis purchased the 23,000-acre Jason H. Henry ranch in 1913.
In 1904, a group of U.S. soldiers on the “Blue” team dug in on Pine Mountain, waiting for an attack from the enemy — in this case, the “Brown” team of another group of infantrymen.
They were all here as part of their training at Camp Atascadero, where the terrain was just perfect for training U.S. Army and California National Guard soldiers. The “Blues” won that skirmish, according to Dorothy Lowe’s excellent book, “Camp Atascadero, First Joint Maneuvers, United States Army and California’s National Guard, 1904-1912.”
The U.S. government was thinking about buying the Henry Ranch to turn it into a permanent training facility. Because the government took too long to make up its mind, Henry sold the property to Lewis. The feds eventually settled on the property that became Camp Roberts.
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In 1915, three years after Lewis purchased Henry’s ranchland, a group of local residents living in Tent City met in a small natural bowl inside Pine Mountain, where they formed the Federated Church.
That church eventually broke into two others, the Community Church and Church of the Living Word, which is today’s Atascadero Bible Church.
Jump ahead by about 80 years, and the property was eventually purchased by the city of Atascadero, with an adjoining parcel now owned by the Atascadero Land Preservation Society.
The late Marj Mackey and others longed to see the stadium serve as a site for public functions. A couple of bluegrass festivals were held there with mixed results several years ago.
Hiking trails now occupy portions of the park with varying degrees of difficulty.
Some want Pine Mountain to be a park.
Others want to be able to hold events there.
Just last week, the council got a look at a report that says the area could be subject to a major wildland fire, with the potential for people to be trapped inside the bowl. The report recommends minimal or no use during high fire potential periods, removal of timber that could feed a fire and improvements to the only road in and out.
I agree that Stadium Park is a great place to hold certain events. Ensuring the safety of the public using the bowl must be measured with care in turning such a pristine piece of public property into a commercial events center.