Imperial County, California
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Site Updated:
15 April 2017
Online Continuously Since 1996

History of Imperial County

Imperial County was formed from San Diego County in 1907. However, as early as 1905 the matter of separating the Imperial Valley from the rest of San Diego County and establishing a new government was in the mind of the people. To get to the County seat in San Diego from the Valley required a three hundred mile train trip.  If the County Coroner's services were required he was often too late to hold a real inquest. The Valley was just the tag end of official life and the people grew tired of it.

On August 6 1907, the people of the Valley voted eleven hundred and twenty for county division and eighty-eight against. The contest for the county seat was between Imperial, the oldest town and El Centro, the youngest. It was the most intense, not to say, the bitterest struggle between any two communities in California. The final vote was five hundred and sixty-three for El Centro, five hundred and fifty-five for Imperial and two hundred and twenty-two for Brawley.

With the formation of the new county, all the commissions of peace officers and notaries in San Diego as well as in San Diego County ordinances ceased to be effective. Only California State laws applied until the Board of Supervisors met. The first ordinance passed dealt with the time and place of meeting; the second was a stringent anti-liquor law; and the third an equally strong anti-gambling law. The liquor law forbad the depositing, distilling, selling, delivery or giving away of spiritous, vinous, malt or mixed liquors within the limits of the County of Imperial outside of municipal corporations and provided for the sale of same by druggists for medicinal purposes under guarded restrictions. Among other restrictions the prescription had to be written, signed and dated within twenty-four hours of sale. The name of the person applying personally for the prescription as well as the person for whom it was intended had to be written in by the physician. The druggist had to file the prescriptions numbered in order and a physician giving a prescription to a well person was in for trouble.

A temporary Courthouse was planned and built on main Street in 1908. It was placed so that when the time came to build a permanent Courthouse the temporary building could be sold as a business building. The new Courthouse was dedicated at El Centro, November 9 1924.

 The County of Imperial claims on its letterhead to be "The largest Irrigated District in the World."

 Sources: Information sent by the County Clerk. Data gathered by Mrs Tallman of San Diego Committee in El Centro. Counties and Courthouses of California: A Survey  /

The Historical Activities Committee  / The National Society of Colonial Dames of America / Resident in the State of California

Historical Activities Committee:

Mrs Sherman Rogers, Hall, Jr | Mrs George Storm Hauck | Mrs Bullard Nugent

Mrs Donald Rex Tallman | Mrs Slocum Wilson | Mrs Frederick Mewborn Fisk, Chairman: 1964


Imperial County's Neighbors:
Riverside County, California, North
Yuma County, Arizona, Southeast
La Paz County, Arizona, Northeast
San Diego County, California, West
Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico South
Tecate, Baja California, Mexico Southwest


"The Fine Print"
The CAGW Administrative Team:
State Coordinator: Martha A Crosley Graham
Temporary Imperial County Coordinator: Martha A Crosley Graham
Assistant State Coordinators: Claire Martin, Joy Fisher & Jeannette Harper

All materials, images, sounds and data contained herein are not to be copied or downloaded for purposes of duplication, distribution, or publishing without the express written permission of the Imperial County Coordinator. All future data which is contributed to this project will be returned to the donor upon request.

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