A scenic coastal city between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Oxnard, California, is a rich agricultural community with the charm of a small town. While its population is the largest in Ventura County – nearly double that of the county seat, Ventura – Oxnard’s large swaths of farmland and orchards and miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline give the city a uniquely appealing character.
Originally home to the Chumash Indians, who prospered along the entire coast between Malibu and Paso Robles, the area saw expanded settlement after Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Buenaventura in what is today Ventura. Ranchos sprawled outward from the mission and by the mid-19th century, as the potential for agricultural wealth became apparent, the population was growing rapidly.
In 1897, local ranchers offered Henry T. Oxnard 18,000 acres of sugar beets as incentive to construct a sugar beet processing factory. With shipping assured by a Southern Pacific Railroad spur right to the factory door, the business became a hub of development. Soon there was a town square, schools, churches, and many services to provide for the town’s new residents.
In acknowledgement of the robust industry, Oxnard hoped to name the growing community Sakchar, the Greek word for sugar, but was unable to communicate his intentions to state bureaucrats. His family name was used instead and the City of Oxnard was incorporated in 1903. After that, industry and the population diversified. A gift from Andrew Carnegie led to the construction of the first public library in 1907. During World War II, military bases at Port Hueneme and Point Mugu brought new residents, followed later by electronic, aerospace, and other manufacturing industries.
Miles of uncrowded beach, a deep-water port and recreational harbor, resort facilities, a vibrant cultural arts district, a regional medical center and hospital, an annual Strawberry Festival, a flourishing community college, and year-round mild weather have all contributed to the recognition of Oxnard as one of Southern California’s most congenial places to live.