About the Colony

Atascadero spring is a source of fresh water and fascination

Lon Allan
Lon Allan

Knowing we are headed into another year of drought, I am intrigued by the natural spring out on Traffic Way near The Lakes housing development.

Now known as Adobe Springs, this is property currently held by the Atascadero Land Preservation Society, founded by the late Marj Mackey.

The spring sits just across the roadway that is believed to be a part of the original mission trail — the original El Camino Real or the King’s Highway.

The structure was the home of Pedro Estrada, who was granted ownership of this Mexican land grant known as Rancho Atascadero.

Estrada eventually sold the ranch to Jason Henry, who sold it to E.G. Lewis in 1913.

The Estrada Adobe is about two miles east on Traffic Way from today’s El Camino Real, Atascadero’s main street.

But my fascination is with the site across the street.

For many years there was always water running across the road right at the location of the old adobe, which was all but destroyed in 1978.

I learned that the adobe also served as a stop for the stagecoach because of the water there. It flowed past the adobe and into the Salinas River, which is just about 1,000 feet away.

The adobe was built and served as the most southern outpost of Mission San Miguel in 1812. The building served the church as a place to store grain and house those who worked for the mission. Estrada eventually got the Atascadero rancho and moved into the adobe in about 1860.

But back to that water.

There is a spring on the hillside on the left side of Traffic Way. You don’t see it from the roadway.

The Land Preservation Society marked the site with signs identifying Adobe Springs. The group conducts tours of the spring from time to time and is in the process of developing an educational program to go with this very unique site.

I finally got to see the spring a few years ago. The hair stood up on the back of my neck as I realized it has been sending up this fresh water supply for more than 200 years. The water now goes into a conduit and dips beneath the roadway as it flows into one of two ponds at The Lakes housing development.

It fascinates me that the spring continues to flow in wet years and dry ones; its output is regular and dependable.

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