Dove predates the community of Atascadero - By Lon Allan
Before E.G. Lewis purchased the Henry property, there was already a small town nearby, known as Dove. It was located behind Atascadero State Hospital and Halcon Road, next to the railroad right-of-way. It had a school, a general store and was even a flag stop for the Southern Pacific railroad.
All that remains now are “names.” There is Paloma Creek Park (Paloma meaning “dove” in Spanish) and Dove Creek, which runs from the hills west of U.S. 101 through the park and into the Salinas River. Dove’s small cemetery occupied a small hill at the corner of El Camino Real and Santa Barbara Road for more than 100 years.
In September, 2004, the city council approved a residential and commercial project for the 63-acre site that included the old cemetery. A commercial complex was planned for where the cemetery stood and the developers announced their intention to level the hill to accommodate the new retail buildings. Verbal protests to the council to save the cemetery fell on deaf ears. As mitigation for the loss of the cemetery, the bones of those buried there were dug up and reburied in Atascadero District Cemetery. The developers promised a small kiosk on the site of the new development to remind people of the historic little cemetery and community.
Down where Paloma Creek flows into the Salinas River (close to Halcon Road behind the State Hospital) was a stage stop known as Cashin Station. Just to the right of there was the little settlement of Dove.
Dove was settled by Juan Araujo in 1851 (a year after California became a state). This same area has been known alternately as Cashin, Dove, Paloma and sometimes Eaglet. There was a small rural school at Dove, and a general store that carried a few staples and even watches and other trinkets. There was a telephone in the store that was used at times by Baron von Schroeder, who, up until the outbreak of World War I, owned the nearby Eagle Ranch.
A number of descendants of those who settled in Dove remain in the Templeton, Atascadero and Paso Robles area. There was a train stop at Dove by 1894 when the Southern Pacific line was punched over the Cuesta Grade into San Luis Obispo. It was only a flag stop, which means a “flag” signaled there was either a passenger waiting to board the train or there was some freight to be picked up.
Oldtimers remember that there were about 20 graves at Dove Cemetery. Most were marked by small white crosses. Cattle grazing on the site for the past 100 years and weather pretty much did those wood crosses in.
But two gravestones remained there as the developers announced plans to eliminate the cemetery: Maria R. DeHames, born 1867, died Oct. 27, 1893; and “Our Jennie” (no last name showing), who died in 1872. The developers told the council there is preliminary evidence that only two graves will be found. In the end, 18 graves were uncovered and relocated.
The Araujo family adobe was built on a site on Santa Barbara Road where it makes a sharp turn and becomes Los Palos Road. A corner of the adobe was present right up through the 1960s and ‘70s. A fire and subsequent rains finished off the structure.
Ken Araujo (a third-generation Araujo) was a guest at the dedication of Paloma Creek Park when the city opened the recreation facility in the middle 1980s. He remembers the old general store.
Angel’s book on the history of San Luis Obispo County lists the following “honor roll” students for 1882 at the Salinas School at Dove: Lizzie Cashin, Guadalupe Garcia, Juanita Araujo, Filipe Pacheco, Isbel Pacheco, Timoteo Araujo, Cruz Barba, Angelita Araujo and Luis Pacheco. The teacher was Annie J. Murphy. Murphy wrote of the school, “This school has a drawback on account of tardiness.
Descendents of a number of those pupils remain in the North County area, such Atascadero resident Davene Araujo. It was her great-grandfather who founded Dove. Roxanne Pluneda, also of Atascadero, is a fifth generation Araujo.
The Araujos married into the families of Barba and Pacheco.
The area of Dove was included in the Atascadero Rancho that was purchased by Lewis in 1913. When Lewis began work on his model community, he used Dove as one of his five work camps. He (Lewis) had intended to preserve the buildings of Dove but never got around to it.
Tim Araujo was postmaster in 1909. Sarah Araujo is listed as the last postmaster in 1914. The post office was no doubt moved to Atascadero.
The little town just sort of faded away as Lewis began planting orchards, putting down water mains and carving roads into the surrounding hillsides. Southern Pacific moved its stop from Cashin Station/Dove to “Henry” (Atascadero) soon thereafter.