Jolon, California

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Mission San Antonio de Padua modern (cropped).jpg
Milpitas Hacienda1 (cropped).jpg
The Hacienda (cropped).jpg
Jolon is located in California
Location in California
Coordinates: 35°58′15″N 121°10′34″W / 35.97083°N 121.17611°W / 35.97083; -121.17611Coordinates: 35°58′15″N 121°10′34″W / 35.97083°N 121.17611°W / 35.97083; -121.17611
CountryUnited States
CountyMonterey County
Elevation971 ft (296 m)

Jolon (/hˈln/; Spanish: Jolón;[2] Salinan: Xolon)[3] is small unincorporated village in southern Monterey County, California.[1] Jolon is located in the San Antonio River Valley, west of Salinas Valley.

The origins of Jolon date to 1771, when the Spanish established Mission San Antonio de Padua, under the command of Saint Junípero Serra. The town was officially founded by Californios in 1849, when Antonio Ramírez built an inn as a stop on El Camino Real. Today, most of Jolon is occupied by Fort Hunter Liggett, an army installation.


The Spanish founded Mission San Antonio de Padua in 1771, under the command of Saint Junípero Serra.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area was inhabited by the Salinan nation of Indigenous Californians.

Spanish period[edit]

The famed Portolá expedition, led by Gaspar de Portolá, camped on the San Antonio River near modern day Jolon on September 24, 1769, having crossed the Santa Lucia Range from the coast. The party continued north through Jolon Valley.[4]

Mission San Antonio de Padua was established two years later in 1771, under the direction of Saint Junípero Serra, head of the mission system in California.

The Dutton Hotel in 1890. It was originally built in 1849 by Antonio Ramírez, the founder of Jolon.

Mexican period[edit]

The Mexican secularization act of 1833 was devastating to Mission San Antonio de Padua, reducing its population from 1,300 in 1805 to under 150 in 1834.[5] Following the mass exodus of Mission Indians from the mission, the small community was practically deserted, making Mission San Antonio de Padua the only mission not to grow into a town during the Spanish or Mexican periods.

In 1845, Governor Pío Pico declared all mission buildings in Alta California for sale, but no one bid for Mission San Antonio.

American period[edit]

Hacienda Milpitas was built in 1930 as a country estate for William Randolph Hearst and designed by famed architect Julia Morgan.

The town was founded by Antonio Ramírez, who built an inn at the place in 1850.[6] The Jolon post office was founded in 1872.[6] The inn later became a major Stagecoach Station on the route for travelers between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The hotel changed owners several times before 1876, when H.C. Dodge sold it to Lt. George Hough Dutton (1825–1905) for $1,000 and 100 acres. Dutton added a second adobe story, wood frame structures at either end, called the Dutton Hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 14, 1971.[7][8] In 1890, Captain Thomas Theodore Tidball, a friend of Dutton, established the Tidball Store, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[9]

In the early 1920s William Randolph Hearst bought up thousands of acres in the rolling foothills of the Santa Lucia mountains east of Hearst Castle near San Simeon on California's Central Coast.[10] He sent his architect, Julia Morgan, to the eastern side of the range, near Mission San Antonio, to design and oversee the building of a hacienda-style headquarters for the expansion of his ranching operation. The building was called the Hacienda Milpitas Ranchhouse, or simply the Hacienda.

Hearst sold his rancho to the U.S. Army in 1940. In preparation for World War II, the army established Fort Hunter Liggett as a important training center for the West Coast, still in operation today.


Jolon is located San Antonio River Valley of southern Monterey County, inland on the Central Coast of California.


This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 74.4 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Jolon has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[11]

Popular culture[edit]

Jolon is mentioned in the chorus of the song "South Coast" [1] as a place where, back in its frontier days, one could gamble.

Jolon is also the setting for John Steinbeck's novel To a God Unknown. The town is not mentioned in the book but is the basis for the fictional town in the book.


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Jolon, California
  2. ^ El Heraldo Católico Vol. 38 • No.2
  3. ^ Xolon Salinan Tribe
  4. ^ Bolton, Herbert E. (1927). Fray Juan Crespi: Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast, 1769-1774. HathiTrust Digital Library. pp. 190–194. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  5. ^ "San Antonio de Padua", California Missions Resource Center
  6. ^ a b Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 910. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  7. ^ Fink, Augusta (2000). Monterey County: The Dramatic Story of its Past. Valley Publishers. p. 160. Retrieved 2020-07-19.
  8. ^ DeMars, E. W. (1970-12-01). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form: Dutton Hotel, Stage Coach Station - Jolon". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-11-08. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Seavey, Kent L. (1976-12-12). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form: Tidball Store". National Park Service. Retrieved 2021-10-17. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ The Hacienda
  11. ^ Climate Summary for Jolon, California

Further reading[edit]

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