Cholame, California

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Cholame, California
Unincorporated community
Cholame, California
Cholame, California
Cholame, California is located in California
Cholame, California
Cholame, California
Location within the state of California
Coordinates: 35°43′26″N 120°17′44″W / 35.72389°N 120.29556°W / 35.72389; -120.29556Coordinates: 35°43′26″N 120°17′44″W / 35.72389°N 120.29556°W / 35.72389; -120.29556
Country United States
State California
County San Luis Obispo
Elevation 1,157 ft (353 m)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 93461
Area code(s) 805
GNIS feature ID 252871[1]

Cholame /ʃəˈlæm/ is an unincorporated community in San Luis Obispo County, California, USA. It sits within a mile of the San Andreas Rift Zone fault line at an elevation of 1,157 feet (353 m) above sea level and is located at 35°43′26″N 120°17′44″W / 35.72389°N 120.29556°W / 35.72389; -120.29556. Cholame is reached via State Route 41, just southwest of the junction of Route 46. Rainfall data from a nearby ranch shows that the area around Cholame only receives about eight to nine inches (200–230 mm) of rain in a normal year.


Cholame was originally a rancheria of the Salinian Indians. Later Rancho Cholame became the property of R.E. Jack and Frederick Adams. The land was sold to the Hearst Corporation in 1966 and is still a working cattle ranch.[2]

The town is best known as the place where actor James Dean died on September 30, 1955. Dean died one mile (1.6 km) to the northeast, at the junction of State Highways 41 and 46, when college student Donald Turnupseed made a left turn without seeing Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder approaching in the oncoming lane. On September 30, 2005, the State of California officially commemorated the 50th anniversary of Dean's death by naming State Highways 41 and 46 as the James Dean Memorial Junction. A few hundred individuals, including State officials, a Dean family member, several Dean archivists, and loyal fans gathered in at the junction and at Cholame to pay tribute to Dean. Cholame has a restaurant and a memorial to James Dean erected in 1977 by a retired Japanese businessman from Kobe, Seita Ohnishi. The monument is made of stainless steel and surrounds a tree of heaven, a Chinese sumac.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cholame". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  2. ^ David W. Kean, Wide Places in the California Roads: The encyclopedia of California's small towns and the roads that lead to them (Volume 1 of 4: Southern California Counties), pp. 44-45.