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Attack on Ellwood

At 7 PM on Feb. 23, 1942, Goleta residents were settling in to listen to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat on the radio. The Japanese had just attacked Pearl Harbor two and a half months earlier and tensions were high for folks living on the coast. Meanwhile, a 365 foot long Japanese […]

Kate Bell’s Cactus

If you ever walk from Haskells Beach towards Santa Barbara, you probably have noticed the hillside below Sandpiper golf course has a large, unruly patch of cactus growing on it. We’ve always seen it there, but never really thought much about it. We figured the oil companies planted it to […]

Old Town

A funny thing happened. I got a phone call from Jay Allen saying he had an old photo of Goleta he wanted to give me. I was honored and said heck yes, I’d love to see it. The next day, I get an email from Rob Evans. He too had […]

Tar

If you spend any time at all on the beaches of Goleta, you know what tar is. Some days it’s plentiful other days, there isn’t any. Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t understand why it’s there. Lots of folks assume it’s due to the big oil rigs out in the channel, […]

Goleta Earthquake 1978

August 13, 1978. A sunny Sunday afternoon in the Goleta Valley. Somewhere underneath the Santa Barbara Channel, the earth shifted abruptly, causing a magnitude 5.2 earthquake. The initial rupture started on an offshore fault, south of the city of Santa Barbara, at a depth of about 5.5 miles. The earthquake […]

Bird Island

Just off the coast from Sandpiper golf course, these four structures sit quietly. Several times a day people look at them and ask each other, what are those? And usually the answer is a random guess. Here’s the story. In the early 1930s, Ellwood was a booming oil field. It […]

Naples

Most folks know there’s a stretch of the Gaviota Coast that’s referred to as Naples. But do they know how it got this name? It was first called Naples all the way back in 1887, by a wealthy world traveler named John H. Williams and his wife Alice. They had a […]

Mescaltitlan Island

When you’re driving out to Campus Point, you may not even notice this obscure little hill. But before World War II, this lump of dirt was a sizeable island and in ancient times it had a huge, thriving Chumash village on it. The purple line shows the area that was […]

Who’s Ellwood?

Most Goleta folks know of an area called Ellwood. It’s used in conversation and directions, it even shows up on maps, but do you know why is it called that? According to this map, there’s an Ellwood Oil field, an Ellwood Canyon, and Ellwood sits proudly at 86 feet above […]

Goleta Asphalt

If you know what you’re looking at, this boring clump of ivy holds a lot of historical importance. This is all that’s left of Goleta’s once booming asphalt industry. In 1890, the Alcatraz Asphalt Company leased a 400-acre tract of land  that had a surface tar pit on it, from […]

Bishop Ranch

When passing through the heart of Goleta on the 101, you can’t help but notice a large open space on the mountain side of the freeway,  between Los Carneros and Storke. This is referred to by locals as Bishop Ranch. Over the past few years, this beautiful piece of land has been […]