Date of Award


Degree Name

MA in History




College of Liberal Arts


Joel Orth

Advisor Department


Advisor College

College of Liberal Arts


Swanton Pacific Ranch is an educational and research facility owned by the Cal Poly Corporation and managed by the Cal Poly State University (Cal Poly) College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Located about 180 miles north of campus and just 14 miles north of Santa Cruz, California on Highway 1, the property was first leased to and then donated to Cal Poly by the late Albert E. Smith in 1993. The rancho’s original inhabitants included Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans, as well as various European immigrants and their descendants; currently, the staff, faculty, and students of Cal Poly occupy the land. Each of these groups used the land’s rich environment for a variety of purposes from subsistence to financial and intellectual pursuits. Over time, researchers and local historians have discussed specific aspects of the Swanton Pacific Ranch and its environs, particularly concerning its occupants, land use (e.g. businesses, farming, research), and land features (e.g. geology, botany). The following work offers a more cohesive, descriptive narrative of the land and its people organized chronologically from prehistory to the present.

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