Santa Barbara County
Cities and Towns
New Cuyama is an unincorporated town in
Santa Barbara County, California, in the United States. It was
named after the Chumash Indian word for "clams", most
likely due to the millions of petrified prehistoric clamshells
that grace the surrounding areas. The town is home to the
majority of the utility infrastructure for its residents,
including nearby neighbor Cuyama, California. New Cuyama is
located very close to the intersection points for Santa Barbara,
San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Kern counties. The town is served by
Highway 166 (connecting U.S. Route 101 and Interstate 5) and the
public-use New Cuyama Airport.
The area was considered territory of
the Yokuts people, but Chumash Indians from the Pacific Coast are
also known to have frequented the area. The imprint of an old
Indian trail can still be seen leading over the hills of Ventura
County to the headwaters of Piru creek.
The area's recorded history dates to 1822 when Mexico won independence from Spain and took over the Spanish colony of California. Two land grants were eventually given by the Mexican government for the lower Cuyama Valley (where current New Cuyama resides), privatizing ownership of the land.
Following the 1949 discovery of oil at the South Cuyama Oil Field, in 1952 the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) settled and developed the town of New Cuyama, building housing and associated commercial business including the New Cuyama Airport (L88) which bears the distinction of being the only public-use paved airport within easy flying range of Los Angeles for more than 50 miles (80 km). Much of the infrastructure from ARCO's settling of the town still exists today and is used by town residents. The original ARCO-built gas processing plant is still in use and easily seen due south of New Cuyama, though ARCO has since sold off interest in the facility.
The town of New Cuyama, when founded, was considered the pearl of eastern Santa Barbara County, due to the flow of oil that was coming out of the region. During this time Richfield Oil Company built the town funded schools and provided all the important utilities other than electricity. Now that oil and gas production have declined, the principal industry is once again agriculture.
Humorous sign in New Cuyama
1,100 according to the New Cuyama city
limit sign as of April 12, 2008.
New Cuyama is located at 34°56'53?N 119°41'21?W. It is situated in the Cuyama Valley.
This page was last updated July 19, 2009.