Independence, California

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census-designated place
Independence town sign
Independence town sign
Location in Inyo County and the state of California
Location in Inyo County and the state of California
Coordinates: 36°48′10″N 118°12′00″W / 36.80278°N 118.20000°W / 36.80278; -118.20000Coordinates: 36°48′10″N 118°12′00″W / 36.80278°N 118.20000°W / 36.80278; -118.20000
Country  United States
State  California
County Inyo
 • Total 4.870 sq mi (12.612 km2)
 • Land 4.867 sq mi (12.605 km2)
 • Water 0.003 sq mi (0.007 km2)  0.057%
Elevation[2] 3,930 ft (1,198 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 669
 • Density 140/sq mi (53/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 93526
Area code(s) 760
FIPS code 06-36350
GNIS feature ID 1658811

Independence is a census-designated place in Inyo County, California. Independence is located 41 miles (66 km) south-southeast of Bishop,[3] at an elevation of 3930 feet (1198 m).[2] It is the county seat of Inyo County, California. The population of this census-designated place was 669 at the 2010 census, up from 574 at the 2000 census. This was mostly because inmates at the county jail are now included.


Mount Williamson (14,375 feet or 4,382 metres), one of the spectacular peaks of the John Muir Wilderness, from near the Independence Airport

The tiny village of Independence is bisected by U.S. Route 395, the main north-south highway through the Owens Valley.

The Sierra Nevada mountains to the west lie within the John Muir Wilderness Area. Onion Valley, one of the principal entry routes to the John Muir Wilderness, is accessed via the Onion Valley road which heads directly west out of Independence. This trail takes hikers to Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks which protect the Sierra Nevada west of the divide between the Owens Valley on the east and the rivers which drain into the San Joaquin Valley to the west.

Onion valley road

Independence is a popular resupply location for hikers trekking the 2,650 mile long Pacific Crest Trail which extends from the Mexican border to Canada along the crest of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges. The highest pass along the entire trail, 13,153 foot (4009 m) Forester Pass, is directly west of Independence.

This granite monolith, The Winnedumah-Paiute Monument, rises prominently from the crest of the Inyo Mountains east of Independence.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Independence covers an area of 4.9 square miles (13 km2), over 99% of it land.

The elevation of Independence is 3,925 feet (1,196 m) above sea level.


Independence, as well as most of the Owens Valley, has a high desert climate with hot summers and cold winters. January temperatures range from an average high of 54.0°F to an average low of 27.4°F. July temperatures range from an average high of 97.6°F to an average low of 63.9F°. The highest recorded temperature was 114 °F (46 °C) on July 7, 1989. The lowest recorded temperature was −5 °F (−21 °C) on January 9, 1937. There are an average of 97.7 days annually with highs of 90F° (32°C) or higher and an average of 88.1 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or lower. Annual precipitation averages only 5.82 inches. The most precipitation in one month was 23.90 inches in February 1904. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 5.72 inches on December 6, 1966. Snowfall varies greatly from year to year, averaging only 5.2 inches. The most snow in one month was 112.0 inches in February 1904.[4]


photo of Inyo County Court House
The Inyo County Court House in Independence

Charles Putnam founded a trading post at the site in 1861.[3] It became known as Putnam's, and later Little Pine from the Little Pine Creek.[3]

Independence began as the US Army Camp Independence (two miles north of the current town) established by Lieutenant Colonel George S. Evans on July 4, 1862. Col. Evans established the camp at the request of local settlers who feared Indian hostilities. The camp was soon closed, but was re-established as Fort Independence when hostilities resumed in 1865. The fort was finally abandoned in 1877, and it is currently a reservation for the Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians.[5]

Independence became the seat of Inyo County in the 1866 when its chief competitor for the site, a mining camp called Kearsarge, disappeared under an avalanche.[6]

The first post office at Independence was established in 1866.[3]


The Eastern California Museum; with extensive collections, exhibits, and programs; is located at 155 North Grant Street in Independence.[7][8]

The home of author Mary Austin, the author of "The Land of Little Rain", is preserved as a museum located at 235 Market Street in Independence.


Library director of Inyo County Free Library is Nancy Masters. Library: 168 N Edwards Street, Independence, CA 93526; central library is in the courthouse, ground floor.



Independence, California Post Office

The 2010 United States Census[Note 1] reported that Independence had a population of 669. The population density was 137.4 people per square mile (53.0/km²). The racial makeup of Independence was 493 (73.7%) White, 6 (0.9%) African American, 98 (14.6%) Native American, 8 (1.2%) Asian, 1 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 28 (4.2%) from other races, and 35 (5.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 93 persons (13.9%).

The Census reported that 603 people (90.1% of the population) lived in households, 8 (1.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 58 (8.7%) were institutionalized.

There were 301 households, out of which 57 (18.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 131 (43.5%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 20 (6.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 8 (2.7%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 13 (4.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 3 (1.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 122 households (40.5%) were made up of individuals and 47 (15.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.00. There were 159 families (52.8% of all households); the average family size was 2.70.

The population was spread out with 100 people (14.9%) under the age of 18, 54 people (8.1%) aged 18 to 24, 117 people (17.5%) aged 25 to 44, 259 people (38.7%) aged 45 to 64, and 139 people (20.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 51.1 years. For every 100 females there were 105.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.2 males.

There were 389 housing units at an average density of 79.9 per square mile (30.8/km²), of which 210 (69.8%) were owner-occupied, and 91 (30.2%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 5.8%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.1%. 410 people (61.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 193 people (28.8%) lived in rental housing units.


Independence from the air.

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 574 people, 272 households, and 161 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 143.6 people per square mile (55.4/km²). There were 342 housing units at an average density of 85.6 per square mile (33.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 88.9% White, 3.5% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.9% Pacific Islander, 3.3% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. 7.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 272 households out of which 23.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.6% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.8% were non-families. 35.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.72.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 20.9% from 25 to 44, 30.8% from 45 to 64, and 21.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.5 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $37,500, and the median income for a family was $45,781. Males had a median income of $41,736 versus $29,688 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $20,535. About 4.2% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.0% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.


In the state legislature, Independence is in the 8th Senate District, represented by Democrat Leland Yee,[10] and the 26th Assembly District, represented by Republican Connie Conway.[11]

Federally, Independence is in California's 8th congressional district, represented by Republican Paul Cook.[12]

Community events[edit]

Independence Day is the biggest event of the year in Independence. Celebrations traditionally begin on the evening of July 3 with a concert at Dehy Park while the fire for the deep-pit BBQ is prepared. The Independence Day events include a 4k run/walk, breakfast at Dehy Park, a parade along Highway 395, an arts & crafts show at the courthouse, "olde tyme" kids games, pie & ice cream social and BBQ at Dehy Park, concluding with a fireworks display at the airport.

The annual December Fruitcake Festival, inaugurated in 2004, is another popular event that draws many visitors.

Popular culture[edit]

A Pepsi Super Bowl commercial that featured a group of five Grizzly Bears dancing to the song P.E.P.S.I (a parody of YMCA by the Village People).

Independence was the film location for the film Trial and Error starring Michael Richards and Jeff Daniels.[citation needed] Daft Punk filmed many of their scenes from the 2006 movie Daft Punk's Electroma in the town.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ All data are derived from the United States Census Bureau reports from the 2010 United States Census, and are accessible on-line here. The data on unmarried partnerships and same-sex married couples are from the Census report DEC_10_SF1_PCT15. All other housing and population data are from Census report DEC_10_DP_DPDP1. Both reports are viewable online or downloadable in a zip file containing a comma-delimited data file. The area data, from which densities are calculated, are available on-line here. Percentage totals may not add to 100% due to rounding. The Census Bureau defines families as a household containing one or more people related to the householder by birth, opposite-sex marriage, or adoption. People living in group quarters are tabulated by the Census Bureau as neither owners nor renters. For further details, see the text files accompanying the data files containing the Census reports mentioned above.


  1. ^ U.S. Census
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Independence, California
  3. ^ a b c d Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Quill Driver Books. p. 1172. ISBN 9781884995149. 
  4. ^ "Period of Record Monthly Climate Summary". Independence, California (044232). Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  5. ^ "Camp Independence Marker". Historical Marker Database. California Historical Marker No. 349. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  6. ^ Inyo County Supervisor Jim Bilyeu quoted in The Los Angeles Times 15 July 2007
  7. ^ The Eastern California Museum website, accessed 6/20/2010
  8. ^ Independence, CA, Places of Interest, The Eastern California Museum, accessed 6/20/2010
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  10. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  12. ^ "California's 8th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]