San Mateo

Zip Code:


Latitude / Longitude:

37°24′11″N 122°25′1″W / 37.40306°N 122.41694°W / 37.40306



Time Zone:

Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)


Purissima is a ghost town in southwestern San Mateo County, California, United States, near the junction of State Route 1 and Verde Road. Purísima means “purest” in Spanish and is most commonly used in Spanish to refer to La Purísima Concepción (the Immaculate Conception) of the Virgin Mary (note historical misspelling in English resulting in double “s”—or perhaps spelling comes from the local Portuguese influence, where the spelling from A Puríssima Conceição would be correct).


Located on José María Alviso’s Rancho Cañada de Verde y Arroyo de la Purisima in a rural area four miles (6 km) south of Half Moon Bay, the village was one of the earliest settlements on the San Mateo County coast, founded in an agricultural area in the early 1850s. The community was badly flooded by Purisima Creek in January 1862, the same month that much of northern California experienced its worst floods in history. Some fields and buildings were swept away.





Current Status:

By the early 1870s, Purissima had a post office, several stores, a school, a one-story hotel known as Purissima House (owned by Richard Dougherty), and other buildings. The general store was built by Henry Husing. A lumber mill was constructed at the mouth of Purissima Canyon, to take advantage of the extensive redwood logging in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains.


Henry Dobbel (born in Holstein, Germany on July 1, 1829; died in Purissima on December 22, 1891) came to California via Cape Horn in 1845. After working at odd jobs, and even running a San Francisco restaurant, Dobbel married fellow German Margaret Roverkamf-Schroeder (born near Hanover, Germany, in 1831; died in Purissima on September 3, 1885). She had come to California via the Isthmus of Panama. They bought a farm in the East Bay. In the 1860s, they sold their farm and bought 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) from John Purcell. They built a big, ornate house on the south bank of Purisima Creek. The house had two stories and 17 rooms; it boasted such innovations as gas lighting and running water. Dobbel employed 50 men who planted and harvested wheat, barley, and potatoes.