100 years in business
Our story starts millions of years ago as the volcanoes in the San Luis
Obispo valley were erupting and forming the layers of rock and soil and
the natural springs of the region. But we won’t go back that far.
Crystal Springs Water has been serving San Luis Obispo County and Santa
Maria Valley for more than 100 years. We’re proud of our local water,
the freshest, best-tasting on the Central Coast.
The history of Crystal Springs Water is nearly as old as the history
of San Luis Obispo. It’s a colorful story that’s a bit mysterious,
with a twinge of sadness but full of the American spirit, ingenuity and
enterprise that continue at the company to this day.
The land where the springs sit was once owned by the richest and largest
land owner in the county, Patrick Washington (P.W.) Murphy.
P.W. Murphy was from a prominent family. His father, Martin, an Irish
immigrant, was one of the men who brought California into statehood. By
doing so, Martin Murphy was awarded a U.S. Land Commission patent for
Rancho de la Cuesta. Those lands today are part of Rancho Santa Margarita.
Martin passed the Rancho in 1861 to his son, P.W.
Owning nearly 70,000 acres of land throughout California, P.W. Murphy
was instantly a prominent citizen in the township of San Luis Obispo.
He sat on the Board of Directors of the J.P. Andrews Bank and the San
Luis Obispo Water Company. He also served in the California State Assembly
(1881) and Senate (1865, 1867 and 1877).
The first proof of the spring’s location is recorded in an 1874
survey of the land by then County Surveyor, R. R. Harris. The name of
the land was the Phillips and Beebee Addition, Murphy sub-division, Lot
30. The hand-drawn survey of the San Luis Obispo Township shows the outskirts
location of the springs where Crystal Springs Water flows to this day
at 3215 Rockview Place.
P.W. Murphy died, the land was sold three years later, in 1904, at public
auction to the J.P. Andrews Bank. A year later, Andrews sold the property
personally to Mary S. Spaulding, a local school teacher, for $10 gold
coin. It was $3,400 less than what he paid for the land! J.P Andrews had
been characterized as a no-nonsense, pretty stingy guy. Why would he sell
the land to the schoolmarm so cheap?
It was around this time that neighboring ranchers – the Steele Brothers,
Damon’s, Garcia’s and Bettencourt’s began purchasing
the spring water for their ranches. Crystal Springs Water was born.
The Chicken Farmer
After 30 years of teaching in San Luis Obispo County, Mary S. Spaulding
retired. Spaulding kept the Crystal Springs Water land until 1925, selling
it to chicken farmer Jesse Yoakum. The land was sub-divided into several
tracts and became known as the Yoakum Poultry Tract on Old Edna Road.
Yoakum continued to sell the water to neighboring ranchers.
It was around 1928 that Walter R. Hudson heard about the springs from
a miner in Ely, Nevada. He moved to San Luis Obispo and bought Crystal
Springs Water from Jesse Yoakum with the intent to bottle and deliver
the water. Being an enterprising gentleman and now mobile with the improvement
of the automobile, Hudson grew the Crystal Springs Water delivery business.
Hudson’s bottle labels featured a cute photo of a very young W.R.
Hudson, Jr. in overalls holding a fresh glass of the New Crystal Springs
Water while standing on a chair next to a glass bottle and dispenser.
The labels declared, “Our motto is purity and sanitation. Our aim
is prompt service always.” Hudson marketed the purity and sanitation
of the water in the 20’s and 30’s, in the age of rusty city
pipes, polio and water-born disease.
The Hudson’s built the Crystal Spring Water business through the
Great Depression and into the throes of World War II. W.R. Hudson might
have left the family business to W.R Jr. after the war, but sadly, Jr.
was killed in action and Mr. Hudson died soon after.
Family Owned and Operated for Four Generations
In 1944, an ambitious man bought Crystal Springs Water from W.R. Hudson’s
widow for $15,000. Edmund Downing Jr. had worked at the springs for a
year and decided to take the risk. That risk paid off and Crystal Springs
Water has grown tremendously, staying in the Downing and Mulay families
for more than 60 years and four generations.
Today, John Jr. and Eric Mulay operate Crystal Springs. They grew
up at the spring’s site on Rockview Place, in the house next
to the holding tanks. John and Eric started working the business
when they were kids. Both helped out on the docks and in the office.
The Mulay family home became the Crystal Springs Water corporate
office in 1984 and now Eric and John use their old bedrooms as their
Left to Right:
Dominic Mulay, Eric Mulay, Suzanne Mulay and Anthony
Now, Eric Mulay and his wife, Suzanne, control the bottled water
and coffee service divisions while brother, John Mulay Jr. owns
the softener and reverse osmosis divisions.
The Mulay families will continue to serve the Central Coast with the
best-tasting water for years to come. They hope the fifth generation of
the family will want to carry on the tradition of offering a superior
product, quality customer service and community involvement moving into
the second century of business for Crystal Springs Water.
The Crystal Spring Water Family
Crystal Springs Water is one big family. Most of the employees have been
with the company for more than 10 years.
Employee birthdays, babies, weddings, graduations, company milestones,
just about anything of importance to families – we celebrate. It’s
important. It’s family. It’s inherent in how we’ve run
our business for more than 100 years.