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Santa Margarita Street Names Stories

To entice the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a railhead near his cattle ranch, Santa Margarita Ranch owner Patrick Murphy gave easements across his land and 640 acres to the Southern Pacific land development company, The Pacific Improvement Company, to build the Town of Santa Margarita. On April 24, 1889 a Grand Auction was held to sell the lots.

Streets in towns developed by the railroad were assigned letters instead of numbers. The SP Railroad numbered its tracks and used letters for the street names that ran parallel to the tracks to eliminate confusion. The railroad towns of San Miguel and Lompoc also have lettered streets.

Why the first street in town isn’t called ‘A’ Street. It was on an 1889 map. ‘A’ Street began at the Santa Margarita Ranch Headquarters and continued to M Street on the eastside of town. The L.D. Norton (Surveyor) 1889 maps show streets that were not developed (A-E and L-N). This map was not recorded with the Clerk Recorders Office as most maps at the time weren’t. A subsequent map in 1902 didn’t show the missing streets.

(Click on this map to see a larger map)

Girl’s Named Streets - Maria, Maud, Helena, and Wilhelmina were named for Patrick Murphy’s nieces.

Yerba Buena Street - Spanish for ‘good herb’ The plant Micromeria douglasii is a rambling aromatic herb of western and northwestern North America. 

Murphy Street - named for Patrick Murphy or the Murphy family

Margarita Street - named for either the Saint or the Town

Encina Street - Spanish for the Live Oak or Holm Oak Tree

Pinal Street - Spanish for a stand of pine trees

Estrada Street - named for Joaquin Estrada, the first owner of the Santa Margarita Ranch

Teresa and Graves Streets - appear on some 1889 maps but were never developed and are now part of the land where the school located.

Why some house numbers are 4 digits and some house numbers are 5 digits.
According to SLO County Planning, ‘The house numbering system adopted by the County in 1958 used 5 digits. This numbering pattern was an extension of the house numbering maps adopted for Atascadero in 1954. The adoption of the area wide address system boundaries in 1985 further extended the existing address grids within the communities out to the rural areas. Although staff has assigned addresses with five digits, the residents have historically dropped the first digit. (eg: 22565 becomes 2565)’


Cheri Roe
November 2012