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Morro Bay is a waterfront city in San Luis Obispo County, California, United
States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 10,350.
Morro Rock was named in 1542 by Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who explored the Pacific Coast for Spain. Cabrillo called the rock El Moro because it resembled the head of a Moor, a people from North Africa known for the turbans they wore.
While governed by Mexico, large land grants split the surrounding area into cattle and dairy ranchos. These ranchos needed shipping to bring in dry goods and to carry their crops, animals, and other farm products to cities. Thus, Morro Bay grew.
The town of Morro Bay was founded by Franklin Riley in 1870 as a port for the export of dairy and ranch products. He was instrumental in the building of a wharf which has now become the Embarcadero. During the 1870s, schooners could often be seen at the Embarcadero picking up wool, potatoes, barley, and dairy products.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the town has been a center for beach holidays. Tourism is the city's largest industry. The most popular beach is on the north side of Morro Rock, north of the harbor. There are also excellent beaches north and south of the town which are now owned by the State of California.
In the 1940s, Morro Bay developed an abalone fishing industry. Although stocks of abalone have now declined drastically due to otters (among other things), it remains a fishing port for halibut, sole, rockfish, albacore, and many other species for both commercial and sport vessels. The town now combines the fishing industry with coastal tourism. In addition, oysters are farmed artificially in the shallow back bay.
Morro Bay is also designated as a state and national bird sanctuary. This means it is illegal to kill or harm a bird in Morro Bay. It is also a state and national estuary.
It is 20 km northwest of San Luis Obispo and is located on Highway 1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.3 km² (10.2 mi²). 13.4 km² (5.2 mi²) of it is land and 12.9 km² (5.0 mi²) of it (49.2%) is water.
Morro RockMain article: Morro Rock
The town's most striking feature is Morro Rock, a 176 m high volcanic plug. Morro Rock stands at the entrance to the harbor, and a causeway connects it with the shore. Previously, it was surrounded by water, but the northern channel was filled in to make the harbor. The Rock, as locals call it, was quarried from 1889 to 1969. There is no public access to the rock itself because it is a reserve for the locally endangered peregrine falcon. However, the area around the base of Morro Rock can be visited. Every few years, someone is caught trying to climb the rock. Climbers risk more than fines or jail time as the rocks that form Morro Rock are loose and fall down regularly. The base of Morro Rock is littered with fallen boulders.
Morro Rock is one in a series of similar plugs that stretch in a line inland called the Nine Sisters. It is possible that the landscape moved over a volcanic hot spot through the ages.
Other nearby cities:
South San Luis Obispo County
North Coast, San Luis Obispo County
|North County, San
North Santa Barbara County
San Francisco Bay Area
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