Hollister California -- The City That Is!
That's Right. Not the Store.
Beach, no. Farm land, yes. That is one of the differences between the real Hollister, California and the mythical one that Abercrombie & Fitch spun for its clothing brand. One thing both worlds have in common---lots of sun.
Hollister, California is where I was born and raised and returned to live after several decades of living in an urban area. I forgot how much I missed the wide sky and the low mountain ranges that surround the town. Excuse me, city. In 1980, the U.S. Census reported a population of 11,488. It tripled by the 2000 Census when the count was 34,413. Between those years, the city limits expanded as once upon-a-time farm fields and fruit orchards were sold and turned into housing developments.
Which Way to Hollister?
The fictional surf town of Hollister, California is located in Laguna Beach, a bit south of Los Angeles in Southern California. The real Hollister is about 300 miles north of Los Angeles. It is in fact part of California's central coast region. The nearest beaches, though, are about 30 miles away to the west in the Monterey/Santa Cruz bay area.
Getting Around Hollister
The County Seat
Hollister is the county seat of San Benito County, which population is nearly 57,000. Hollister, with a population of about 36,000, is one of two cities in San Benito County. The other city is San Juan Bautista, which is approximately seven miles to the west of Hollister. Incorporated communities in the county are Aromas, Tres Pinos, and Paicines.
Hollister Link Mania!
Web sites to check out when you need or want to know more about the real city called Hollister, California.
- City of Hollister
Here's where you can learn about the city government.
- San Benito County
This web site provides the lowdown on the county government, of which Hollister is the county seat.
- Hollister Downtown Association
This is a nonprofit group composed of local merchants and others who promote downtown Hollister and its businesses.
- San Benito County Chamber of Commerce
The local chamber of commerce provides information about many services, shops, restaurants, and other groups that operate in and around Hollister.
- Hollister School District
The Hollister School District serves 5,600 K-8 students who attend the public elementary and middle schools of Hollister.
- San Benito High School
Since 1875 San Benito High School has provided secondary education to teenagers living in Hollister and other parts of San Benito County.
- San Benito County Free Library
The San Benito County Free Library, located on Fifth Street in Hollister, was established in 1917 by the County Board of Supervisors.
- San Benito County Historical Society
Where else but this web site can folks learn a lot about some of the history of Hollister and San Benito County.
- Free Lance News
The Free Lance News is a weekly newspaper that comes out every Friday. Its website is updated as news breaks.
- BenitoLInk: Community News for San Benito County
A web portal that comprehensively covers the events going on in Hollister and San Benito County.
- U.S. Census Bureau "Quick Facts"
The U.S. Census Bureau provides statistics about Hollister at this Web page.
The Mutsun Ohlones - The Original Residents
The first inhabitants of the Hollister area were the Mutsuns, a division of the Ohlone people. The Ohlones are also known as the Costanoans, the name that the Spanish called the local peoples when they explored the California coastal region, including inland valleys, between San Francisco and Big Sur. Spanish explorers and settlers encountered several Mutsun tribes in the Hollister valley and throughout San Benito county.
For more info about the Mutsuns and the Ohlones, check out these Web sites:
- Ohlone Indian Canyon Resource
This Web site is owned by Costanoan Indian Research Inc., a nonprofit group, that preserves and promotes the Costanoan-Ohlone community. Indian Canyon is several miles to the south of Hollister; it is the only recognized Indian Land between Clear Lak
- Indian Canyon Village
This Web site provides more info about Indian Canyon.
- Costanoan: Amah Mutson
This is the web site of the Amah Mutsan tribe, who are descendants of the aboriginal people who lived in the Pajaro River Basin.
Wikipedia describes the history, culture, and other aspects of the Ohlone people.
Going Back in Time
The City of Hollister was named after an Ohioan by the name of William Welles Hollister. He and his siblings headed west in the 1850s, driving thousands of sheep along with them. Hollister bought a 50 percent interest in Rancho San Justo, which the Flint-Bixby and Company purchased from Don Francisco Pacheco. At first, Hollister owned the land that was west of the San Benito River, and the Flint-Bixby group owned that to the east. After awhile, Hollister didn't think it was a good deal. The two parties eventually compromised and traded sides.
After another 10 years or so, Hollister sold all of his land to a group of farmers and ranchers who had formed the San Justo Homestead Association. He took his money and moved his family and sheep south to the Santa Barbara area. The association set aside 100 acres for a town, and in 1872, Hollister was incorporated as part of Monterey County. A few years later, San Benito County was created and Hollister was made the county seat.
For a precise reckoning of how Hollister came to be, visit the San Benito County Historical Society Web site.
So, why did the San Justo Homestead Association decide to name the new town after the man who left? Supposedly, some of the farmers didn't want to have another California town with a Spanish name. If you'd like to learn a bit more about Hollister, the man, check out the Wikipedia article William Welles Hollister.
Historical Downtown HollisterClick thumbnail to view full-size
An Aggie Town
Hollister was, is, and, with luck, shall always be an agricultural community. The San Benito High School mascot is after all a Haybaler. Not after the machine, but a farmer (any farmer) who bales hay. Go Haybalers!
Most, if not all, of the new neighborhoods (as of 1980s) in Hollister used to be be orchards (apricots, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, walnuts, and so on), crop fields, or cattle grazing lands. Today, a few farms still border the city limits.
Sustainable agriculture farms and vineyards/wineries have been slowly, but surely, increasing in number in the area.
Local Agriculture Links
Here are some links that will lead you to Web sites that can give you info about the different aspects of the local agriculture industry. You'll also find a few links for local farmers in San Benito County.
- San Benito County Agricultural Commissioner
The San Benito County Agricultural Commissioner posts annual reports and other information about the local agricultural production at this Web page.
- San Benito County Farm Bureau
The San Benito County Farm Bureau preserves and promotes agriculture in San Benito County through education, leadership, and service.
- Local Harvest
Find organic food grown by local farmers at this Web site. To find Hollister area farmers, enter "95023" in the "Where?" search engine.
- San Benito Wineries and Wine
Here's another Web site about some of the winegrowers in the area.
- Hollister Farmer's Market
The Hollister Farmer's Market usually runs from May to September every year in historical downtown Hollister.
- Guerra Cellars
A local winery that also puts on summer concerts on its grounds.
- Hain Ranch
The Hain Ranch produces organic walnuts and certified organic pastured chicken that it sells at local farmers' markets.
- Mariquita Farm
Marquita Farm sells organic vegetables and herbs to restaurants and to the public through the Community Supported Agriculture program.
- Paicines Ranch
The Paicines Ranch is a working ranch that sells free-range, grass-fed beef directly to its customers.
- Phil Foster Ranches
The Pinnacle Farm sells a variety of organic crops through grocery markets and farmers' markets. It also sells products every Saturday morning at its farm stand.
- Swank Farms
Swank Farms sells a variety of vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants through traditional outlets and farmers' markets, as well as at their farm stand. Every fall, it opens its fun 12-acre corn maze to the public.
Local Agricultural BountyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Shaking and Rolling!
Hollister is full of cracks. Uh-huh. The ground beneath us is continuously shifting because of EARTHQUAKES.
I've heard say that we have an earthquake every day. Most are so slight, we don't know they're happening. Why not? Two major faults run through our area---the ominous San Andreas Fault and the just as menacing Calaveras Fault. Hollister saw much damage in both the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.
Once upon a time, Hollister called itself the Earthquake Capital of the World. Parkfield, California now holds that title. Stilll, Hollister has a good share of geologists coming to town to study earthquake activity. Check out the following Web sites by researchers about the Calaveras Fault that runs through downtown:
Pinnacles National Park
Hiking, rock climbing, camping, picnicking, gazing at Condors (if you're lucky), or just plain napping are some of the things you can do at the Pinnacles National Monument, which is part of the National Park Service. It's a long, windy 30 miles south of Hollister on highway 25.
The monument was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt and became a park in 2013. Over 23 million years ago, according to some scientists, the Pinnacles was a part of the Neenach Volcano that is located several hundred miles to the south near Lancaster, California. Yes, you read that correctly. The famous San Andreas Fault split the volcano and ever so slowly the fault crept and carried the Pinnacles to its present location. Amazing, huh?
For more info about the Pinnacles and all the flora, fauna, and fun there, clickity click over to Pinnacles National Park.
The Birthplace of the American Biker
As long as there have been motorcycles, there have been many bikers riding in, about, and through Hollister. Locals as well as visitors. But, that is not the reason some people have called Hollister the birthplace of the American Biker. That designation stems from the events that took place on the 4th of July Weekend in 1947. About 4,000 bikers, from all parts of the state and other states as well came to town for the 3-day motorcyle rally being held at Bolado Park, a few miles south of Hollister. A lot of bikers for a small town.
As you would expect, at night, after the races, some of the bikers came into town to relax, to party, to have some fun. And of course, some got drunk and rowdy. One biker even rode his motorcycle through a bar---the bar in the photo, in fact. Fights also took place. The small local police force had to declare martial law to keep things under control. When all was said and done, the authorities figured less than 1 percent of all the rally attendants were arrested and charged with...wait for it...misdemeanors.
The newspapers at that time turned the incident into a full-blown riot, exaggerating the events in story and photos. One famous photo is of a drunken man sitting on his bike. The story implies that he was a thug, an outlaw, and so on. Years later, it turned out that the photographer posed the photo (and others). The biker was your average everyday local guy. Several years later, the sensationalized events of that 1947 weekend inspired the movie "The Wild One." No doubt the movie also promoted the image of the biker who centers his lifestyle around his motorcycle.
In 1997, Hollister held an Independence Motorcycle Rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the incident. Tens of thousands of bikers, motorcycle enthusiasts, and friends attended. Except for a few years, the rally has been held every July, on or around July 4, since then.
For a better low-down of the 1947 incident, check out these Web sites:
"The Wild One"
The 1947 biker incident in Hollister was the inspiration for the movie "The Wild One." The film came out in 1953. It was directed by Laslo Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer. The star of the film was none other than Marlon Brando.
Novels Based in Hollister
Here are a couple of novels that set some or all of its story in and around Hollister. Enjoy!
This is the second novel of an unfinished trilogy by Frank Norris, published in 1901. The story is about a very tense conflict between ranchers and the railroad over (what else) land at the end of the 19th century.
A mystery novel in which part of the story takes place in Hollister.
Here are a few of the events that take place each year in Hollister.
- Downtown Wine & Beer Stroll (May)
- Portuguese Parade (late Spring)
- Hollister Airshow (June)
- San Benito County Horse Show and Rodeo (June)
- The Hollister Rally (July)
- Annual Street Festival & Car Show (July)
- Indian Canyon Annual Storytelling and Indigenous Gathering (July)
- The Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival (August)
- Northern California Renaissance Faire (September through October)
- Mexican Independence Day Parade (September)
- San Benito High School Homecoming Parade (Fall)
- San Benito County Fair (October)
- Swank Farms Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch (October)
- San Benito Olive Festival (October)
- Veteran's Day Parade (November)
- Lights On Annual Celebration (Thanksgiving weekend)
- Holiday Cheer Shop Hop (December)
Photos of Past EventsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Going to the Fair
Ever gone to a county fair? San Benito County holds one every year in the fall. It's a 3-day event. It's a blast! Carnival rides and carnival games. Cotton candy, funnel cake, and BBQ. One year, I even forked over a dollar to the see "The Strange Thing," which was a dried, shriveled chupacabra. Gross.
Children and adults throughout the county enter the flowers and vegetables they've raised; the crafts, clothes, cakes, and cookies they've made; the photos they've clicked and paintings they've created; and so on. All for the chance of being one of the best in their categories. (Future Farmers of America) and 4-H members also exhibit the goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, cows, and other livestock that they have raised all year. After being judged and awarded, the kids sell their animals at an auction that takes place at the fair.
To find out more about the fair, visit the official Web site: San Benito County Fair.