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Coffee with Joan 5-21-2020

Coffee With Joan

Joan Sullivan is a Artist, Historian & Author. She is a classically trained artist who discovered a love of history through painting who produced “Picture the Past,” a monthly show featuring local ranches and other areas of historical interest which aired locally for over 10 years. Find out more at

May 23, 2020

Wilson Adobe, Turri Ranch

How did you spend Mother’s Day? I enjoyed going down memory lane with my daughter, Lynne. By memory lane I mean Turri Road. Turri Road is a 4.6 mile long winding road that can be taken from Los Osos Valley through to South Bay Boulevard or by way of South Bay Blvd to Los Osos Valley Road.

My nostalgia for Turri Road began in the early 1970s, when I painted on the Turri Ranch with the Thursday Location Painting Class. We were invited back several times by Joe and Margaret Turri. On one occasion Mr. Turri gave the class a tour of the adobe. It was called the Wilson Adobe because it was owned by John Wilson who bought 32,000 acres of the valley ( Rancho La Canada de Los Osos y Pecho Y Islay) in 1845 that included the adobe built by the missionaries in the early 1800s.

The Turri family moved from Cambria to the ranch in 1901, when Mr. Turri was six-years-old.

I made a recording of his tour and family history.

“Us kids slept here,” he said as he pointed to a room on the ground floor, as we both climbed the very steep wooden stairwell to the second story of the 90-foot long adobe. We walked from one end of the second story to the other end passing through three areas separated by two walls.

Mr. Torri said he worked the ranch from the time he was 8-years-old. At 15 he was a ‘sack sewer’ during harvesting. He went on to say that “20 men worked alongside the horse driven steam engine. There were two sack fillers and two sack sewers. One water bucket hauled for 18 horses and an engine. The engine burned hay. One straw buck, bucked straw away from the separator. One cook in the cookhouse fed a crew of 18. Two sack tenders, one separator tender, one engineer; one fireman stoked and fed the fire. When the steam engine came down the valley drawn by 18 horses, all the kids got out of school to see it and follow it. It made so much noise and caused such a sight. It went through the valley to all the ranches. The header cut the hay and barley.”

Another Turri Road ranch my class visited was The Tonnini Ranch and the Gianoliin Ranch, just north of the Turri Ranch.

Those were the days that came to mind on my memory lane Turri Road drive on Mothers Day.

Reference: “Rounding Up The Ranches” by Joan Sullivan 2015

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