Jolon, presumably named for a Salinan word meaning either "Place of Meeting" or "Place of Dead Oaks," had its beginnings in 1849 when Antonio Ramirez built a one-story adobe building to serve as an inn along El Camino Real near Mission San Antonio de Padua. The strategic location caused Jolon to grow as a stage stop and trading center, eventually attracting settlers to the area, and in 1858 Francis Sylvester began to petition for a post office (though one didn't open until 1872).

Beginning in 1871, Ramirez's adobe passed through multiple hands before ending up under the ownership of Lt. George Dutton and Capt. Tidball. By 1876, Dutton was the building's sole owner and it was enlarged to include a second story as well as a wood frame addition at either end, becoming known as the 'Dutton Hotel'. Meanwhile, Tidball purchased another adobe structure (built by Flint & Bixby Stage Lines in 1868). By 1878, Tidball's Store held the post office and he too enlarged his building with wooden additions - by 1890, wooden additions had converted the small adobe structure to a fine two-story building. Unfortunately, the bypassing of Jolon in 1886 by the Southern Pacific Railroad and in 1910 by a new highway (now US-101) brought Jolon's days of prominence to an end. By 1929, the Dutton Hotel was closed and Jolon was nearly a ghost town. A fire that year helped to cement that status.

Jolon's last chapter of activity began in 1923, when William Randolph Hearst purchased most of the land surrounding Jolon. In 1929 following its closure, Hearst acquired the Dutton Hotel and for a time there were hopes for it to be used as a museum, though this never materialized. Hearst began work on a large mission-style ranch house, known as the Milpitas Ranchhouse, on his land between Jolon and Mission San Antonio, and it was completed in 1930. In 1940 Hearst sold his holdings (including the Dutton Hotel and Milpitas Ranchhouse) to the United States government, which established Fort Hunter Liggett the following year.

Today, few buildings remain at the site of Jolon. The Dutton Hotel, last used as a recreation center for Fort Hunter Liggett in the 1940s, is in complete ruin; the roof caved in in 1969, and over the last several decades the walls and even a protective shelter built to protect the remnants have completely collapsed. Tidball's Store (known also as the Ganoung Hotel at some point) was used as a private residence until at least the 1970s. Hearst's Milpitas Ranchhouse, on the grounds of Fort Hunter Liggett, is now operated as a public hotel called the Hacienda. Each of the aforementioned buildings was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s.

See Also
Mission San Antonio de Padua