Cambria’s rich history is rooted in the exciting story of the American West with tales full of Native Americans, cowboys, miners, merchants and pioneers. The earliest human settlement in this area was by Native American Chumash peoples, who lived off abundant marine resources in the coastal area.
Legend has it that early settlers were drawn to the area by its fertile lands, streams and lumber. The Oceanic Quicksilver Mining Company quickly claimed its stake, soon employing 300 people, creating the largest mine in the area and the sixth largest in the world. The town was originally called “Slabtown,” but it eventually adopted the more distinguished name of Cambria, according to local historians.
In 1958, Hearst Castle became a state park and was opened to the public. This brought throngs of tourists to the area clogging the roads until a Highway One bypass was built carrying the traffic around the downtown areas. Known over the years as Santa Rosa, Roseville, San Simeon and “Slabtown”, the town became Cambria (the Latin word for Wales according to Funk & Wagnall’s) on January 10, 1870, on the recommendation of a local committee. The exact story of how Cambria got its name is shrouded in mystery and has been lost as subsequent generations have stepped forward to claim the honor of naming our town. One story that seems to have the most facts to support it is that Cambria is named after a Welsh town in Cambria County, Pennsylvania.
One of the oldest homes in Cambria, built in 1870, the Guthrie-Bianchini House still stands and is now the home of the Cambria Historical Museum. Share in Cambria’s heritage and visit the Historical Museum, Creekside Garden Preserve and Historic East Village, and revel in the notable local architecture.