Atascadero

Tom Taylor

Colony Magazine Columnist Tom Taylor

It seems to me that on the occasion of the inaugural issue of Nic and Hayley Mattson’s Colony Magazine that the meaning of the name ‘Atascadero’ should be explained and put it in its place historically.
The founder of the town of Atascadero was Edward Garner Lewis. Born and raised in cramped older cities of the eastern states, he had a vision to find a place ‘whose dwellers should have all the loveliness and healthfulness of the country with the conveniences and advantages of the city’.
What happened next is best told in the following excerpts taken from Marguerite A. Travis’s 1960 book, “The Birth of Atascadero.”
“Mr. Lewis’ favorite idea, to which he referred most frequently as the weeks went on, was his dream city, and before long there came an issue in which he announced his intention of starting out on a search for a site for the new community that would fill his vision.
After traveling south, north, and west, he finally announced that in California he thought he would find the most satisfactory location, describing one or two attractive places which he had inspected. Then, finally, came the day when he proclaimed the glad news that he had found a land of milk and honey, a great tract called the Atascadero Rancho, with 23,000 acres of rolling hills, green valleys, rippling streams (in winter) whence came the name of Atascadero: “Many Waters,” mountain canyons, and shady forests-and everywhere the spreading branches of the great live oaks which dotted hills and meadows.”
Clearly stated, Travis was of the opinion that E.G. Lewis thought of Atascadero as ‘Many Waters’ and a lovely place.
The Spanish word, Atascadero, is translated to bog, from the verb “atascar” which means to become stuck or hindered. Some say pig pen, mudhole, or ‘not a very nice place.’ In the Chumash language however, Atascadero translates into a ‘place of much water’.
All that aside, to most of us, Atascadero simply means “Home Town”