Spanish for “the cottonwoods” which line the stream banks running through the valley, Los Alamos is located approximately fifty miles north of Santa Barbara at the intersection of US Highway 101 and State Route 135.

Los Alamos was founded in 1876 by John Bell and James Shaw, both formerly of San Francisco, who had purchased adjoining 14,000 acre ranches from the area’s original Mexican land grants. They jointly determined to build a town and allocated one-half square mile from each of their ranches for that purpose.

Los Alamos became a stagecoach stop in 1876 and by 1882, it hosted a depot for the narrow-gauge Pacific Coast Railway that linked San Luis Obispo and Los Olivos. It is now the only surviving depot of the Pacific Coast Railway and currently houses the Depot Antique Mall.

By 1901, the Southern Pacific Railroad built a wider-gauge line that bypassed Los Alamos and the smaller railway couldn’t compete. It finally shut down in 1938, and Los Alamos became somewhat “frozen in time”, preserving much of the charm and atmosphere of a bygone era.


Walking Tour

1. Leslie House 1880 2. Ferrini Park 1869 3. L.A. Men’s Club 1947 4. Depot Motel 1870 5. Railroad Depot 1883 6. General Store 1880 7. Bank/Lariat Bar 1916 8. C.H. Pearson’s “Cheap Cash” Store 1878 09. Union Hotel 1890 10. Victorian House 1890 11. Wm. Gewe House 1881 12. Perkins House 1882 13. B.F. Whitney 1891  14. Blue Cottage 1890  15. Perkins House 1882  16. Community Church 1887  17. C.H. Pearson House 1878  18. Delaguerra House 1901  19. Henry Gewe House 1909  20. Bell School Site 1876  21. Crowell House 1882  22. F. Foxen House 1882