The Origins of Cambria
Time to take a look back – way back – at some of Cambria’s local history and landmark historic events. The original Yankee settlement which eventually became Cambria was initially located near Leffingwell Cove, where there was a wharf for some years. Eventually, the village of Cambria as we know it, took shape in the 1860s. It is thought that the village got the name through the influence of a surveyor from Cambria County, Pennsylvania. But to this day the pronunciation is a hotly contested topic with even longtime locals in disagreement. We are just happy they ended up calling it Cambria instead of Slabtown, one of the original names.
Access to this part of the coast was a challenge that brought about some engineering innovations as they struggled to carve a road into the side of a very steep mountain face. Today, historic Highway 1 continues to be one of the world’s favorite drives with breathtaking coastal views and truly awesome swaths of undeveloped natural splendor.
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse
Construction of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse was built in 1872. Issues with the building site, including hard rock that was nearly impossible to drill into, prompted modifications to the structure plans in 1874. The lighthouse completed and put into operation in 1875, and a fog signal was installed in 1906.
Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred from the United States Lighthouse Board to the Coast Guard in 1937, and then to the Bureau of Land Management in 2001. Today, the lighthouse has been restored, and docent-lead tours are available.
The Guthrie-Bianchini house was built in 1870 and is one of the oldest homes in Cambria. The original house was a small “salt box”, and built by Thomas Clendinen. It was then sold in 1882 to Benjamin Franklin – rumored to be a relative of THE Benjamin Franklin!
From there, the house underwent numerous additions and owners, among them Ms. Sarah Guthrie and Eugenio Bianchini. In 2001, the property was purchased by the Cambria Historical Society, and opened as the Cambria Historical Museum in December 2008.
Located on the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street in Cambria’s East Village, it is a great spot to learn more local history of our charming coastal town. Take a self-guided walking tour and discover even more interesting facts about our charming coastal town.