The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolà expedition, passed through the area, traveling up today's Price Canyon from Pismo Beach, where they camped on September 4, 1769. Franciscan missionary and expedition member Juan Crespi noted in his diary that they found a native village near the creek.
Pismo Beach is located on the Rancho Pismo Mexican land grant made to José Ortega, grandson ofJosé Francisco Ortega, in 1840. In 1846 José Ortega sold Rancho Pismo to Isaac Sparks. John Michael Price bought most of the rancho from Isaac Sparks. Price established the town of Pismo Beach in 1891. His homestead is now Price Historical Park. His home is a registered historical landmark.
The name Pismo comes from the Chumash language word for tar, Pismu' , which was gathered from tar springs in Price Canyon near Pismo Beach. The tar was a valuable product which theChumash Indians used to caulk their seagoing canoes, called tomol, which traveled along the coast and out to the Channel Islands.
The first wharf at Pismo was built in 1882, followed by a full-length pier built in 1924 that was financed and constructed by William Woodrow Ward who allowed full use of it by the public. After it suffered considerable storm damage, the pier was renovated again in 1985. Pismo State Beach is named for the city of Pismo Beach.
The neighborhoods of Shell Beach and Sunset Palisades were originally the site of a Chumashvillage, and significant archeological sites are located in both areas. Shell Beach became agricultural land, mostly pea fields. Developer Floyd Calvert bought and developed the area in 1926. At first it was a local resort area; after World War II it became primarily residential. Sunset Palisades, originally called Oilport, was the site of an oil refinery from 1907 until after World War II. It is now residential. *source: Wikipedia.org