Historical Markers in
Santa Barbara County, California

1880 Union Hotel 40th Infantry Division Korean War Memorial Arroyo Hondo Fish Passage & Upstream Habitat Restoration Bit O' Denmark Burton Mound Camp Cooke Memorial Carpinteria Aviation History Carpinteria’s Lima Bean History Casa Covarrubas Chapel of San Ramon City Water Works - Historical Landmark Cold Spring Tavern De La Guerra Plaza Don Jose Francisco De Ortega Earle Ovington Terminal El Capitán Portolá Far Western Tavern First Offshore Oil Production First Ruling Sovereign of Europe to Visit America First Successful Cement Job Fly To-Day Gaviota Pass Goleta Depot Hill-Carrillo Adobe Historic Capstan Historical Site of the First Masonic Temple in the County of Santa Barbara Hope House Hotel Virginia In Honor of Gov. Gaspar de Portola In Honor of Nancy Kelsey In Memory of William Alvin Newton IOOF Temple Italian Stone Pines Janssens-Orella Adobe House Site Japanese Attack Japanese Attack John Edward Smith Memorial John Long House Jose Francisco De Ortega Jose Lobero's Opera House Juana Maria La Carpinteria La Carpinteria La Carpinteria La Purisima Mission La Purisima Mission La Purisima Mission State Historic Park La Viña Grande Las Cruces • The Crosses Lompoc Carnegie Library Lompoc World War I Monument Lompoc's Mission Vieja Los Baños del Mar Pool Los Olivos 1887 Mission Historical Park Mission Santa Inéz Moorish Fountain and Indian Community Laundry Moreton Bay Fig Tree Myron Hunt Old Lobero Theatre Old Stagecoach Route Old Stagecoach Route Original Masonic Cornerstone of Carnegie Library Original Site of Mission de La Purisima Concepcion de Maria Santisima Ovington's Hangar Portolá Sycamore President Reagan Meets Queen Elizabeth II Private Railcar Spurs Rancho De Los Olivos Farmhouse Reuben Hart Residence Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Rochin-Birabent Adobe Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Site Sambo's Birthplace Santa Barbara County Courthouse Santa Barbara Mission Early Water Supply Santa Barbara Mission Lavanderia Santa Barbara Presidio Santa Barbara Railroad Station Santa Barbara Veterans' Memorial Building Santa Barbara's First People Santa Maria Cemetery District Santa Maria Libraries Santa Maria Valley Cold War Veterans Memorial Santa Maria Valley Korean War Memorial Santa Maria Valley Vietnam Veterans Memorial Santa Maria Valley War on Terrorism Memorial Santa Maria Valley World War I Memorial Santa Maria Valley World War II Memorial Santa Maria's Oldest Building Site of Royal Spanish Presidio Site of the Pacific Coast Railway Depot Space Launch Complex 10 "St. Barbara" Stearns Wharf Stearns Wharf Fire The American Woman Veteran The Curtis P-40 The Heath Adobe The Los Alamos General Store The Oreña Adobe The Pascual Botiller Adobe The Past and Future Las Cruces Adobe The Rochin Adobe The Santa Maria Inn The Southern Pacific RR Roundhouse The Union Hotel This Street Name Anapamu To the Loyalty Trades Union Building Tragedy of Point Pedernales / Honda Point Trussell-Winchester Adobe Tympanum USAF Medal of Honor Recipients Vandenberg Air Force Base Vandenberg Air Force Base 30th Space Wing Memorial Veterans' Memorial Cultural Center and Park Vietnam War Memorial Wardholme Torrey Pine “World’s Safest Beach”
The Transcontinental Railroad was completed in Promontory Summit, Utah in 1869, but the western terminus of the railroad was actually in Oakland, California. The railroad made it easier and faster to travel across the country, and helped to spur California's economic growth.
Located along the central coast of California, Santa Barbara County has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. The region was originally home to the Chumash people, who thrived on the abundant natural resources found in the area. Spanish explorers arrived in the late 18th century, with the first European settlement established in 1782 by the expedition led by Spanish soldier José Francisco Ortega. The settlement, named Presidio Real de Santa Bárbara, served as a military outpost and mission.

In the early 19th century, Mexico gained independence from Spain, and the region became part of Mexico. However, after the Mexican-American War in 1848, Santa Barbara County became part of the United States. With the discovery of gold in Northern California, Santa Barbara experienced growth as a transportation hub for those seeking their fortunes. Agriculture also played a significant role in the county's development during this period, with the establishment of vineyards and farms.

The 20th century brought further economic growth to Santa Barbara County, primarily driven by oil and tourism. The discovery of oil in the region led to the establishment of the first offshore oil well in 1896, and the industry continued to flourish throughout the century. The growth of tourism was fueled by the county's natural beauty, including its beaches and the Santa Ynez Mountains, attracting visitors seeking a coastal getaway. Notably, the region has also been recognized for its role in the development of environmental protection and restoration initiatives.

In more recent times, Santa Barbara County has faced challenges as well. In 1969, an offshore oil platform experienced a catastrophic blowout, resulting in a massive oil spill that had a devastating impact on the local environment. The incident played a significant role in shaping the county's environmental policies. Additionally, the county has experienced several devastating wildfires and droughts, highlighting the ongoing need for robust disaster preparedness and management.

Today, Santa Barbara County is known for its thriving wine industry, beautiful coastline, and vibrant cultural scene. The county continues to evolve, with a focus on sustainable development, preserving its natural resources, and maintaining its unique historical charm.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Santa Barbara County, California.

  • Chumash Indians inhabited the region for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 16th century.
  • In 1769, Gaspar de Portolà established the Presidio of Santa Barbara as a Spanish military outpost.
  • In 1782, Mission Santa Barbara was founded by Franciscan friars as the 10th mission in California.
  • Santa Barbara was part of Mexico after gaining independence from Spain in 1821.
  • In 1848, following the Mexican-American War, Santa Barbara County became part of the United States.
  • The California Gold Rush brought an influx of settlers to the region in the mid-1800s.
  • In 1850, Santa Barbara became one of the original 27 counties of California upon statehood.
  • Oil was discovered in the county in the 1890s, leading to an economic boom.
  • The Santa Barbara earthquake struck in 1925, causing widespread damage to the city.
  • In the mid-20th century, Santa Barbara became a popular tourist destination and a hub for aerospace and defense industries.