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highway 101 sign

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GAVIOTA PASS  Santa Barbara County, California

gaviota pass mountain

car drives through the mountain

Gaviota Pass is located between Santa Barbara and Solvang around the bend from Gaviota State Beach and Park.


When you see road signs announcing a rest stop, you are nearing this historic location (see marker inscription below). Gaviota Pass includes a northbound tunnel built into the massive rock structures of Highway 101 that stand as a testimony to thousands of years-old volcanic activity.


State operated facilities with restrooms, picnic tables and pay phone are located on Highway 101 north and southbound lanes on the southern end of Gaviota Pass. Stop to look at maps, local information and to read the marker inscription describing the significance of this historic location.


The information below is included on that marker:

Fremont – Foxen Memorial

Here, on Christmas Day, 1846 natives and soldiers from the Presidio of Santa Barbara lay in ambush for Lt. Col. John C. Fremont, U.S.A. and his battalion. Advised of the plot, Fremont was guided over the San Marcos pass by Benjamin Foxen and his son William, and captured Santa Barbara without bloodshed.


Note: Historical references offer several versions of Fremont's effort to take Santa Barabara.  Benjamin Foxen (Christened William Domingo) was born in England in 1798. He died in Foxen Canyon on Feb 19 1874. He married Elmaria Osuna on May 26, 1831 at Santa Barbara Mission. The little town of Goleta was named after his ship Goleta (means little schooner) by which he came to CA. On Dec 24 1846 he guided John C. Fremont over the San Marcos Pass. Three weeks later January 13, 1847 California was ceded to the US.


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