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Located on the Pacific coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Cambria developed as a hub for lumbering, mining, whaling, and dairying in the 19th century. Situated in a pine forest and populated by immigrants from the eastern United States and numerous Swiss-Italians, it became the second largest town in San Luis Obispo County. When the railroad bypassed Cambria, the pace of life quieted for a time, and ranchers raised cattle for beef. But affordable automobiles and the construction of roads to the north and east turned the locale into a vacation destination. The cool climate, rugged cliffs, beaches, and signature Monterey pine forest brought a sizable new development called Cambria Pines. The opening of Hearst Castle as a state park assured Cambria’s future as a tourist destination. The ways in which people have engaged with the local forest is a leitmotif in the account of these developments.

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