Coalinga, California

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Coalinga, California
City of Coalinga
Coalinga City Hall.jpg
Coalinga City Hall
Flag of Coalinga, California.png
Seal of Coalinga, California.png
"The Sunny Side of the Valley"
Fresno County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Coalinga Highlighted 0614274.svg
Location of Coalinga in Fresno County, California.
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Coalinga, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 36°08′23″N120°21′37″W / 36.13972°N 120.36028°W / 36.13972; -120.36028 Coordinates: 36°08′23″N120°21′37″W / 36.13972°N 120.36028°W / 36.13972; -120.36028
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of California.svg  California
County Fresno
Incorporated April 3, 1906 [1]
   Mayor Ron Lander [2]
   State Senate Shannon Grove (R) [3]
   State Assembly Joaquin Arambula (D) [4]
   U. S. Congress TJ Cox (D) [5]
  Total6.70 sq mi (17.35 km2)
  Land6.67 sq mi (17.27 km2)
  Water0.03 sq mi (0.08 km2)  0.50%
673 ft (205 m)
(2016) [8]
  Density2,489.20/sq mi (961.05/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (PST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 559
FIPS code 06-14274
GNIS feature IDs 1652687, 2409495

Coalinga ( /ˌk.əˈlɪŋɡə/ or /kəˈlɪŋɡə/ ) is a city in Fresno County and the western San Joaquin Valley, in central California.

Fresno County, California County in California

Fresno County, officially the County of Fresno, is a county located in the central portion of the U.S. state of California. As of July 1, 2018, the population was 994,400 The county seat is Fresno, the fifth most populous city in California.

San Joaquin Valley Southern part of the Central Valley in California

The San Joaquin Valley is the area of the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California that lies south of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and is drained by the San Joaquin River. It comprises seven counties of Northern and one of Southern California, including, in the north, all of San Joaquin and Kings counties, most of Stanislaus, Merced, and Fresno counties, and parts of Madera and Tulare counties, along with a majority of Kern County, in Southern California. Although a majority of the valley is rural, it does contain cities such as Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, Modesto, Turlock, Tulare, Porterville, Visalia, Merced, and Hanford.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.


It was formerly known as Coaling Station A, Coalingo, [9] and Coalinga Station. [7]

The population was 13,543 as of 2011, up from 11,668 at the 2000 census. It is the site of both Pleasant Valley State Prison and Coalinga State Hospital.

Pleasant Valley State Prison

Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) is a 640-acre (260 ha) minimum-to-maximum security state prison in Coalinga, Fresno County, California. The facility has housed convicted murderers Sirhan Sirhan, Erik Menendez, X-Raided, and Hans Reiser, among others.

Coalinga State Hospital Hospital in California, United States

Coalinga State Hospital (CSH) is a state mental hospital in Coalinga, California.


19th century

Legendary bandit Joaquin Murrieta was killed in 1853 at his headquarters, Arroyo de Cantua, north of Coalinga. California Historical Landmark #344 marks the approximate site of where he was slain, near the junction of present-day State Route 33 and Route 198.

Joaquin Murrieta Mexican outlaw

Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo, also called The Robin Hood of the West or the Robin Hood of El Dorado, was a Sonoran forty-niner, a vaquero and a gold miner who became a famous outlaw in California during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s. The popular legend of Joaquin Murrieta is that of a peace-loving man driven to seek revenge when he and his brother were falsely accused of stealing a mule. His brother was hanged and Joaquin horsewhipped. His young wife was gang raped and in one version she died in Joaquin's arms. Swearing revenge, Joaquin hunted down all who had violated his sweetheart. He embarked on a short but violent career that brought death to his Anglo tormentors. The state of California then offered a reward of up to $5,000 for Joaquin "dead or alive." He was reportedly killed in 1853, but the news of his death were disputed and myths later formed about him and his possible survival.

California Historical Landmark buildings, structures, sites, or places in California determined to have historical significance

California Historical Landmarks (CHLs) are buildings, structures, sites, or places in the U.S. state of California that have been determined to have statewide historical landmark significance.

California State Route 33 highway in California

State Route 33 is a north–south state highway in the U.S. state of California. It runs north from U.S. Route 101 in Ventura through the Transverse Ranges and the western side of the San Joaquin Valley to Interstate 5 at a point east of Tracy. SR 33 replaced part of U.S. Route 399 in 1964 during the "great renumbering" of routes. In the unincorporated sections of Kern County it is known as the West Side Highway. In addition, the California Legislature designated the entire Kern County portion as the Petroleum Highway in 2004. The southernmost portion in Ventura is a freeway known as the Ojai Freeway, while it is known as the Maricopa Highway from Ojai to Maricopa.

Coalinga gets its first load of Model T cars, about 1914 Caoalinga"T's".jpg
Coalinga gets its first load of Model T cars, about 1914

Before 20th-century diesel locomotives, steam locomotives were used, and powered in the San Joaquin Valley by burning coal mined from the northern foothills of Mount Diablo to the north. The Southern Pacific Railroad Company established the site as a coaling station in 1888, and it was called simply Coaling Station A. Local tradition has it that an official of Southern Pacific made the name more sonorous by adding an a to it. [10] However, it is just as likely that the small railside signs of the day, which often abbreviated names, read "COALINGA" to mean "Coaling A." [Another example is Braner's Cut north of Eureka, whose sign said "BRACUT," which has now become the name of that spot along Highway 101.] The resemblance to Nahuatl (where cōātl = "snake") is accidental.

Diesel locomotive locomotive powered by a diesel engine

A diesel locomotive is a type of railway locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine. Several types of diesel locomotive have been developed, differing mainly in the means by which mechanical power is conveyed to the driving wheels.

Steam locomotive Railway locomotive that produces its pulling power through a steam engine

A steam locomotive is a type of railway locomotive that produces its pulling power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning combustible material – usually coal, wood, or oil – to produce steam in a boiler. The steam moves reciprocating pistons which are mechanically connected to the locomotive's main wheels (drivers). Both fuel and water supplies are carried with the locomotive, either on the locomotive itself or in wagons (tenders) pulled behind.

Mount Diablo Mountain in California, USA

Mount Diablo is a mountain of the Diablo Range, in Contra Costa County of the eastern San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California. It is south of Clayton and northeast of Danville.

The first post office was established in 1899. [9] The city was incorporated in 1906. [9]

A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. The term can also be used to describe municipally owned corporations.

1983 earthquake

State Theater on Elm Avenue, damaged by 1983 earthquake. CAtheater1983.jpg
State Theater on Elm Avenue, damaged by 1983 earthquake.

On May 2, 1983, Coalinga was struck by an earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.5, which nearly destroyed more than 300 homes and apartment buildings; another 691 buildings suffered major damage, and hundreds more had minor damage. Damage was severe in downtown Coalinga–the eight block commercial district was almost totally destroyed. The shock was felt as far away as Los Angeles and western Nevada, and was followed by a series of aftershocks that caused additional minor damage and some injuries. Only one death was reported of a man who succumbed to a heart attack. [11]


Coalinga is located 52 miles (84 km) southwest of Fresno, [9] at an elevation of 673 feet (205 m). [7] The topography is generally level, suitable for a number of field crops which do not require large amounts of water.


Underlying rock formations include the occurrence of Vaqueros sandstone. Surrounding the town in a semicircle from the west, around the north, and to the east are several anticlinal formations containing considerable accumulations of petroleum as the Coalinga Oil Field, from which oil has been withdrawn for more than a hundred years.

The city is located near a particularly active portion of the San Andreas Fault, and earthquakes are frequent.


Coalinga has a desert climate, with very hot summers and cool winters. Its hardiness zone is 9a. [12] The average annual precipitation is 8.25 in (210 mm), falling mainly from October to May. [13]

Coalinga (1981–2010 Normals)
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: Western Regional Climate Center [13]


Today, the city's main industries are agriculture, oil and incarceration. The city is home to the Coalinga Oil Field, operated by Chevron and Aera Energy; the Guijarral Hills Oil Field; Pleasant Valley State Prison; and Coalinga State Hospital.

Coalinga is home to California's first new mental health hospital in more than 50 years: a 1,500-bed facility built specifically to house sexually violent predators. Coalinga State Hospital opened in September 2005.

In 2016 the Coalinga City Council was one of the first cities to pass an Ordinance allowing for the Cultivation, Manufacturing and Distribution of Cannabis. The City sold its old Prison Claremont Custody Center to Ocean Grown Extracts for $4.1 Million Dollars to help the city get out of a financial crisis and to supply jobs to the residents. Shortly after the small city voted to allow a single Cannabis Dispensary that will also supply tax revenue to the city and allow for patients in need to obtain Cannabis. [14] [15]


Coalinga High School. Coalinga High School.jpg
Coalinga High School.

Coalinga is the site of West Hills College Coalinga, which is part of the California Community Colleges system.

Its children are served by the Coalinga-Huron Joint Unified School District, of which Coalinga High School is a part.


Historical population
1910 4,199
1920 2,934−30.1%
1930 2,851−2.8%
1940 5,02676.3%
1950 5,53910.2%
1960 5,9657.7%
1970 6,1613.3%
1980 6,5937.0%
1990 8,21224.6%
2000 11,66842.1%
2010 13,38014.7%
Est. 201716,774 [8] 25.4%
U.S. Decennial Census [16]


The 2010 United States Census [17] reported that Coalinga had a population of 13,380. The population density was 2,175.8 people per square mile (840.1/km²). The racial makeup of Coalinga was 7,734 (57.8%) White, 549 (4.1%) African American, 171 (1.3%) Native American, 407 (3.0%) Asian, 36 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 3,937 (29.4%) from other races, and 546 (4.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7,161 persons (53.5%).

Coalinga house in 2009 Coalinga house.jpg
Coalinga house in 2009

The Census reported that 11,752 people (87.8% of the population) lived in households, 130 (1.0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 1,498 (11.2%) were institutionalized.

There were 3,896 households, out of which 1,809 (46.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,913 (49.1%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 658 (16.9%) had a female householder with no husband present, 311 (8.0%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 341 (8.8%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 16 (0.4%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 797 households (20.5%) were made up of individuals and 220 (5.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.02. There were 2,882 families (74.0% of all households); the average family size was 3.49.

The population was spread out with 3,763 people (28.1%) under the age of 18, 1,610 people (12.0%) aged 18 to 24, 3,646 people (27.2%) aged 25 to 44, 3,308 people (24.7%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,053 people (7.9%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 123.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 132.1 males.

There were 4,344 housing units at an average density of 706.4 per square mile (272.7/km²), of which 3,896 were occupied, of which 1,996 (51.2%) were owner-occupied, and 1,900 (48.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 8.4%. 6,192 people (46.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 5,560 people (41.6%) lived in rental housing units.


At the census of 2000, there were 11,668 people, 3,515 households, and 2,632 families residing in the city. These included 805 people who were living in group homes. [18]

The racial makeup of Coalinga under those circumstances was 57.3 percent white, 2.4 percent African American, 1.5 percent Native American, 1.7 percent Asian, 0.2 percent Pacific Islander, 32.3 percent from other races, and 4.6 percent from two or more races. About half the population was Hispanic or Latino.

The median age in 2000 was 28.6 years, younger than the 33.3 figure for California and the 35.3 figure for the United States as a whole.

The median income for a family was $41,208, about $11,000 less than for other families in California or the country at large.

The Coalinga Chamber of Commerce Web site in 2007 estimated a population of 18,061 for the city.

2000 figuresCoalingaCaliforniaUnited States
Median age28.633.335.3
Family income$41,208$53,025$50,046
Poverty families16.4%10.6%9.2%
Med. home value$86,900$211,500$119,600
High school diploma65.0%76.8%80.4%
College degree11.8%28.6%24.4%

Notes: "Family income" is median family income in 1999 dollars. "Med. home value" is the median value of single-family houses. "Poverty families" is the percentage of families with incomes below the poverty level. "High school diploma" is the percentage of people 25 years and over who had graduated from high school.


The Harris Ranch is a major local cattle ranch, which also features a hotel, several restaurants, and a gift shop for travelers. It is located on Interstate 5 east of Coalinga. The Harris Ranch Airport is nearby.

The Horned Toad Derby is held in Coalinga in late May over the Memorial Day weekend annually. [19] The three-day event is similar to the more famous Jumping Frog Jubilee held in Calaveras County, California, but utilizes locally caught horned toads (lizards) rather than frogs. The tradition began in 1935. [20]

The WHAMOBASS Balloon Rally is hosted by Coalinga annually on the November weekend closest to Montgolfiere Day (November 21) every year. It's the longest consecutively running annual hot air balloon rally in the world. It is sponsored by the Whiskey Hill Atherton Menlo Oaks Ballooning & Sporting Society. Typically, more than 40 balloons ascend at dawn on Saturday and Sunday morning from the athletic field of West Hills College Coalinga. A small number fly on Friday and occasionally on Thursday. [21]

The R.C. Baker Memorial Museum is housed in the former Baker Oil Tools machine shop in town. [22] The museum displays local fossils, models of prehistoric fauna, Native American artifacts, and items from pioneer settlers. [22] A restored 1934 Richfield Gas Station is also on the museum's property. [22] The museum continues to collect historical items donated to the collection.

The Coalinga Rifle Club, whose 25 point, 1000 yard range facility is west of town, is host to various California State Rifle Championships. These include: California State Long Range, Mid Range, Palma Rifle, Fullbore, Service Rifle and High Power Championships. It is also the home of the California Grizzlies, Junior National Champions for the last four years. They have recreational facilities for rifle, pistol, shotgun and a 500-meter Metallic Silhouette Range. [23]

The New Coalinga Municipal Airport is host to the annual Northern California Aerobatic contest. [24] This early June event is typically the largest of five annual California regional aerobatic contests sanctioned by the International Aerobatic Club. It relocated to Coalinga from Paso Robles in 2013. [25] Visitors to the airport can view upwards of 45 pilots flying a wide variety of competitive aircraft in five categories of competition over a two-day period.

Notable people

See also

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  8. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved June 9, 2017.
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  10. William Bright, 2004, California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names
  11. Stover, C. W.; Coffman, J. L. (1993), Seismicity of the United States, 1568–1989 (Revised), U.S. Geological Survey professional paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, pp. 96, 171–175
  12. PlantMaps: Hardiness Zone for Coalinga
  13. 1 2 Western Regional Climate Center: NCDC 1981–2010 Normals
  14. APPLETON, RORY (July 27, 2017). "Coalinga made millions from pot, so why could some city employees lose their jobs?". Fresno Bee . Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  15. APPLETON, RORY (December 27, 2017). "Here's where to buy legal pot in the Valley after Jan. 1 – and how it will work". Fresno Bee . Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  16. "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  17. "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA – Coalinga city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  18. U.S. Census figures
  19. KFSN ABC TV – Horned Toad Derby
  20. – Horned toad derby of 1935 Archived 2009-07-29 at the Wayback Machine
  21. WHAMOBASS Hot Air Balloon Festival
  22. 1 2 3 R. C. Baker Memorial Museum, review and directions.
  23. Coalinga Rifle Club website
  24. | Northern California Aerobatic Contest
  25. | International Aerobatic Club
  26. John McCollum [ circular reference ]
  27. "Jo Stafford of CBS 'Club 15'". The Sherbrooke Telegram. February 23, 1950. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  28. "Sirhan Sirhan denied parole in 1968 Robert F. Kennedy killing - NY Daily News".