Santa Maria – Agricultural Heart of Santa Barbara County

Santa Maria Valley 

Dining Room – Santa Maria Inn 

Santa Maria Valley completed the year with organizing for a $4,000,000 irrigation system for the purpose of placing under cultivation fruit orchards of 100,000 acres, no given over to grain ands small white-bean growing. The city of Santa Maria is the center of this activitiy. A survey by the State Engineering Department shows that sufficient water can be impounded by building a dam across Sisquoc River, avobe the valley, to place irrigation water on all the rich farmlands of the valley.

The city has had marked growth during the year. Street paving, business-block construction and the building of schools and churches have been a marked feature of the city’s growth. A strong Chamber of Commerce and Santa Maria Valley Business Men’s Association have co-operated in forwarding the plans for civic progress. Bean growers, the grain farmers and stock men have had a prosperous year. In Santa Maria Valley are the towns of Santa Maria, Orcutt, Casmalia, Betteravia, Sisquoc and Guadalupe. Santa Maria city this year completed a water plant doubling its supply for domestic purposes.

Guadalupe has been notable during the year for the large increase of its vegetable-growing activity. Summer and fall lettuce and fall tomatoes have been found to develop to superior size and flavor, and several carloads a day have been shipped to all pars of the country every day of the long harvest season. Cauliflower for the late winter season and spring brings on renewed activities. Land values have doubled in the Guadalupe section during the year.

~ LA Times, January 1, 1925 (article edited for clarity)

In addition to farming, the valley was home to dairy farms, the Rosemary Farms chicken ranch, cattle ranches, oil wells and oil production. Tens of thousands of acres were devoted to growing sugar beets that were processed at the Union Sugar plant in the small town of Betteravia.

By the 1920s, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad was vital to bringing the agricultural gifts produced in the Santa Maria Valley to the nation. A video taken in the valley in 1925 showcases the modern agricultural activities and methods employed by ranchers and farmers at that time.

For a window into the Santa Maria Valley of the 1920s, a video entitled Santa Maria Railroad, is preserved in the public domain on

See the video,  here


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