Santa Paula Stone House Small
The Rock House in The Oaks neighborhood of Santa Paula

Welcome to the city of Santa Paula, CA.

Santa Paula is a city within Ventura County, California, United States. The population was 29,321 at the 2010 census, up from 28,598 at the 2000 census. It has been dubbed the “Citrus Capital of the World.” As the initial headquarters of the Union Oil Company of California, Santa Paula was one of the early centers of California’s enormous petroleum industry.

History

The vicinity of Santa Paula was originally inhabited by the Chumash, a Native American people. In 1769, the Spanish Portola expedition, first Europeans to see inland areas of California, came down the Santa Clara River Valley from the previous night’s encampment near today’s Fillmore and camped in the vicinity of Santa Paula on August 12, near one of the creeks coming into the valley from the north (probably Santa Paula Creek). Fray Juan Crespi, a Franciscan missionary travelling with the expedition, had previously named the valley Cañada de Santa Clara. He noted that the party travelled about 9 to 10 miles that day and camped near a large native village, which he named San Pedro Amoliano. The arrival of the expedition has been designated California Historical Landmark No. 727.

Franciscan missionaries, led by Father Junipero Serra, became active in the area after the founding of the San Buenaventura Mission and established an Asistencia; the town takes its name from the Catholic Saint Paula. Santa Paula is located on the 1843 Rancho Santa Paula y Saticoy Mexican land grant.

Santa Paula Oil Museum
Union Oil Building

In 1872 Nathan Weston Blanchard purchased 2,700 acres and founded the town of Santa Paula. Several small oil companies owned by Wallace Hardison, Lyman Stewart and Thomas R. Bard were combined and became the Union Oil Company in 1890.

In April 1911, Gaston Méliès moved his Star Film Company from San Antonio, Texas to a site just north of Santa Paula.

The large South Mountain Oil Field southeast of town, just across the Santa Clara River, was discovered by the Oak Ridge Oil Company in 1916, and developed methodically through the 1920s, bringing further economic diversification and growth to the area. While the field peaked in production in the 1950s, Occidental Petroleum continues to extract oil through its Vintage Production subsidiary and remains a significant local employer.

St. Francis Dam Failure
In 1928, the town was devastated by a flood caused by the failure of the St. Francis Dam in the middle of the night.

St. Francis Dam
St. Francis Dam Failure 1928

The loss of life would have been greater if it were not for two motorcycle police officers that noisily warned as many people as possible. A sculpture called “The Watchers” in downtown Santa Paula depicts this act of heroism.

The Watchers Statue
The Watchers Statue in Santa Paula

Jeff Haring CRB, GRI  Realtor- Sales & Property Management
Ventura County Real Estate

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