Mustang Daily Staff Report
San Luis Obispo was a wild town 150 years ago. Outlaws rode down the streets with opponents’ ears hanging from their saddles and covered wagons rattled into a town full of travelers in search of a new life.
And then Walter Murray arrived. Founder of The Tribune, Murray pushed for frontier justice in the 1860s, working to clear the town of outlaws and turn San Luis Obispo into a functioning city.
Today’s San Luis Obispo is a far cry from its frontier roots, but on Oct. 28 and 31, current residents can take a walk through time and learn about the characters who thrived (and some who did not) in 19th century San Luis Obispo at the San Luis and Old Mission cemeteries’ historical Halloween walking tours.
San Luis Cemetery — “Odd-fellows” cemetery
Joe Morris, who will lead the Sierra Club-sponsored historical walk at San Luis Cemetery, said he leads city walks once a month in San Luis Obispo, and the Halloween holiday gave him the idea to bring the tours to the cemetery.
During the 90-minute tour, Morris will cover approximately 20 grave sites, including the grave of Myron Angel, who came to San Luis Obispo in 1881 and founded Cal Poly.
Morris said one particularly intriguing attraction in the cemetery is a 25-foot-tall granite pyramid, which sheds light on the story of Fred Dorn, once a district attorney for San Luis Obispo. When Dorn’s infant son and wife died, he erected the pyramid to house their ashes in the San Luis Cemetery.
“It cost almost $100,000,” Morris said. “It’s just enormous, you can see it when you drive by.”
Morris said he loves to share stories of tough pioneers and “interesting people that came to this city and got it going.”
“These are just incredible people,” he said.
The tour is not a spooky one, but instead celebrates Halloween in the sense that it celebrates the lives of people that died, Morris said.
Morris said telling people the stories of lives past makes them realize what life was like before modern times.
“People get a better perspective on their own life, understand what it was like before,” Morris said, “We tend to take the life we have now for granted.”
The free tour is open to the public and starts at 2:15 p.m on Oct. 28 at 2890 S. Higuera St.
Old Mission Cemetery
Oct. 31 marks the 23rd year Daniel Krieger will lead the Halloween tour through Old Mission Cemetery.
Krieger calls the free tour “a non-scary tour” to bring children into the cemetery to learn and be intrigued with the basic fabric of history, rather than be afraid.
“Each grave reads a part of a story of this place,” Krieger said. “I try to interpret each one.”
Krieger said he loves seeing “the excitement on people’s faces” as he tells the stories of the 18 to 20 graves during the tour.
The graves he chooses are different every year, Krieger said, and people who attended the first tour 23 years ago will be there again this year to learn more.
Krieger’s tour will be an entirely different experience from Joe Morris’ tour at San Luis Cemetery.
“We’re coordinating,” Morris said. “He’ll have a lot of great stories that are different from mine.”
The free tour starts at 4 p.m. on Bridge Street at the Old Mission Cemetery gate and will last approximately 90 minutes.
Allison Montroy contributed to this article.