A couple of people wrote to me stating that no historical article on Gaviota Pass would be complete without mentioning Las Cruses and the impact it had on the history of our area. The development of Gaviota Pass in the late 1700s provided a direct route between the coast and the interior valleys and the mission settlements. It is no surprise then that Las Cruses became an important junction during a colorful part of our history.

Back as early as the 1830s, the settlement was located at what is now the intersection of Highway 101, at the Santa Ynez Valley and Highway 1 crossroads, leading to the Lompoc Valley. 

Las Cruses was a small community in the 1950s and no longer exists, but it has an important history. Many of us older Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valley residents remember stopping at the Las Cruses store for ice cream cones and soft drinks on the way home from Santa Barbara or a day at Gaviota Beach.

Former mayor of Buellton, Judith Dale built her career in education and continues to serve the local community as Santa Barbara County 3rd District representative to the Library Advisory Board and board member of the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation. She can be reached at judith@hwy246.net

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