Marking the halfway point in the California mission chain of twenty-one missions is San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
The site for what would become the fifth mission is located near the Valley of the Bears. Here the Spanish had found a large population of bears. By hunting the bears and sending the meat to the missions, they were able to keep people from the existing four missions from starving.
It was after this that Father Junipero Serra decided that the Valley of the Bears would be an ideal place for the fifth mission. The area had abundant supplies of food and water, the climate was also very mild, and the local Chumash Indians were very friendly.
On September 1, 1772, Fr. Serra celebrated the first Mass with a cross erected near San Luis Creek. The very next day, work began on building what is today called Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
Seculariza-tion, in 1834, had devastating effects on the mission and its inhabitants. The buildings were allowed to deteriorate to such a state that when they were finally sold in 1845 they brought only $510--a fraction of its earlier value.
There was little left of the mission when it was returned to the church in 1859. Then, in 1868, the buildings were remodeled with white painted siding and used as a parish church for the flourishing town in the area. At one time there was even a New England steeple added to the church.
Eventually, in 1934, the steeple and siding were removed, and the church's earlier appearance was restored.
As we were putting together this entry, we were unable to transfer the photos of the interior of the Mission from the camera to the computer.
So these photos and several from the past few days have been lost. How we work around these losses will be the subject of our next entries.