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Walking Tours of Mission Plaza and 1858 Committee of Vigilance

Saturday, July 31, 2021, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

The History Center of San Luis Obispo County offers free, one-hour guided tours every Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. from the front of the Carnegie Library at 696 Monterey Street. Tours will continue through Labor Day weekend. This tour will focus on the Mission Plaza sites that reveal the story of the 1858 Committee of Vigilance, the subject of the recent book by History Center volunteer Pete Kelley, The Quick and the Dead: Resistance, Banditry, and Vigilance Revisited on the Central Coast. With the relaxation of most Covid-19 measures, masks will be needed only for those who are not fully vaccinated. This weekly tour is fully accessible to those in wheelchairs or other impairments. The Tour will take visitors back to a turbulent time in the mid-19th Century, when Monterey Street was El Camino Real, a dusty road running from the ranchos of the Central Coast to the gold-mining districts of the Sierra foothills. A derelict and "secularized" Mission San Luis Obispo served as the seat of whatever passed for government and the rule of law; but the region was notorious for several unsolved murders on the dangerous road north to the goldfields. Next to the Mission where the History Center now stands was the only one wood-frame house in town, the home of a remarkable couple, John Wilson and his Californio wife, Ramona Carrillo Pacheco Wilson. John Wilson actually owned the Mission and most of the town, and became a founding member of the Committee of Vigilance. While John Wilson led the vigilantes in the grisly work of hanging their victims on the street below, Ramona had corralled the children of San Luis Obispo inside their home and drew the curtains to protect them from witnessing the dreadful sight of the lynchings. The History Center also offers through its website a variety of self-guided walking tours and video guides to destinations throughout the community, including Downtown, Chinatown and the Railroad District. For more info, see

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696 Monterey St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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