Originally settled by the Chumash Indians, present day Nipomo was founded by a Boston sea captain by the name of William G. Dana. The Mexican governor granted William Dana with Rancho Nipomo, the largest Mexican land grant in the county at 38,000 acres. On that land William Dana and his wife, Maria Josefa Carrillo, built the Dana Adobe, or Casa de Dana, to live in. The Dana Adobe served as an important stop between Los Angeles and Monterey's mail route and also served as a stage coach stop. The Dana Adobe is now a historic building in Nipomo.
William and his wife went on to have a very large family and their children stayed in the area, building homes and ranches which eventually evolved into a small town. Nipomo also served as a stop for the Pacific Coast Railway with trains coming into town until the Great Depression. The tracks were eventually removed for the World War II effort.
During the Great Depression, American photojournalist and documentary photographer Dorothea Lange took one of the most influential and famous photographs in Nipomo, Migrant Mother.
Nipomo's student population is under the auspices of the Lucia Mar Unified School District with students zoned to Nipomo Elementary, Dana Elementary, Dorothea Lange Elementary, Mesa Middle School, Nipomo High School, and Arroyo Grande High School. The middle and high schools in particular place great emphasis in character education, athletics, drama and music programs. Nearby San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria offer three colleges for higher education: Allan Hancock College (Santa Maria), Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo), and California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.
Nipomo is home to one of the most pristine golf courses along the Central Coast, Monarch Dunes Golf Course and Grille. Two courses are located in Monarch Dunes: the 12-hole, Par-3 Challenge Course and the 18-hole, Par-71 championship Old Course. With the Butterfly Grille located in Monarch Dunes, banquets, weddings, corporate events and family reunions can all be hosted at this wonderful venue.
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