About the Colony

Spring is a flowing link to Atascadero’s past

For many years, Atascadero residents who drive along Traffic Way about a mile and a half east of El Camino Real encountered water seeping across the road surface. It has been that way for the 45 years I’ve lived here.

A few years ago, development nearby led to a drain being placed beneath the roadway so you don’t see the wet spot anymore.But the water is still flowing there, from a natural spring on a nearby hillside, past what remains of the Estrada Adobe and into the lakes that dominate a relatively new gated residential development east of the railroad tracks.

The water has been flowing from that spring for at least 200 years.

It flowed there when the Tulare Indians built the adobe in the early 1800s. It flowed there when Pedro Estrada, who acquired the Atascadero Ranch Mexican Land Grant, lived in the adobe. It flowed when the adobe served as a stage stop along the road that connected California’s missions.

Grapes still grow near the Estrada Adobe, and there is at least one living fruit tree.

Across the street from the adobe site, the 5 acres that include the spring are now owned by the Atascadero Land Preservation Society. This premier group of local citizens has been successful in acquiring a number of Atascadero parcels to shield them from development, including acreage leading into Pine Mountain Stadium.

At the present time, the general public isn’t invited to visit the society’s site, recently dubbed Adobe Springs, but the future may lead to docent-led walks on the property.

The society was an idea put forward by the late Marjorie Mackey. I’m proud of the efforts of this small group to make sure portions of Atascadero remain pristine and out of the way of rampant development, which was stopped here only by the recession, not by a conscious desire to recognize we were building too much and in places there should not be homes.

Recently, I was invited to take a look at the spring. I had heard about it for many years, but I wasn’t ready for the emotional impact of seeing it for the first time.

I stood in silence looking at the water bubbling out of the sand at a rate estimated to be between 50 and 100 gallons a minute.

The fact that the spring has been flowing for 200 years and the proximity of the Estrada Adobe not 150 feet away reminded me of just how much Atascadero’s wonderful history means to me.

The society is to be commended for what it is doing for Atascadero.