Loleta, California

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Swauger and Swauger's Station
Loleta's Main Street on south side of rail tracks
Loleta's Main Street on south side of rail tracks
Location of Loleta in Humboldt County, California.
Location of Loleta in Humboldt County, California.
Loleta is located in California
Location in California
Coordinates: 40°38′27″N 124°13′31″W / 40.64083°N 124.22528°W / 40.64083; -124.22528Coordinates: 40°38′27″N 124°13′31″W / 40.64083°N 124.22528°W / 40.64083; -124.22528
Country United States
State California
CountyHumboldt County
 • Total2.125 sq mi (5.504 km2)
 • Land2.125 sq mi (5.504 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
Elevation46 ft (14 m)
 • Total783
 • Density370/sq mi (140/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP Code
Area code707
GNIS feature IDs1656137; 2611440
U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Loleta, California; U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Loleta, California

Loleta (Wiyot: Guduwalhat)[3] is a census-designated place[4] in Humboldt County, California.[2] Loleta is located 5.5 miles (9 km) south of Fields Landing,[5] and 15 miles (24 km) south of Eureka at an elevation of 46 feet (14 m).[2] The population was 783 at the 2010 census. Residents live in a central community area and rural outskirts. There are two separate Native American reservations on the rural outskirts of Table Bluff, California.

The ZIP Code is 95551,[6] and the community is inside area code 707.


There is disagreement as to the origin of its name. One story is that its derived name, lalōekā, is the Wiyot name for the trail on the top of Table Bluff. Another story is that the name was derived from the Wiyot for 'Go F___ Yourself.' A third story is that the name is Wiyot for "Let's have intercourse."[7]


European settlement began in the early 1850s although Wiyot people had inhabited the area for generations. Potato farming was the biggest agricultural use of land until the 1870s, when depleted soil and declining prices caused a turn to dairying. The town was originally known as Swauger or Swauger's Station, for local landowner Samuel A. Swauger.[5]

The town was renamed Loleta in 1897. The name was reported to mean "pleasant place at the end of the tide water" in the language of the original Wiyot native inhabitants,[8] although this is apparently contradicted linguistically[8] as well as by a hearsay account from the 1950s,[9] made notorious by a National Geographic blog post.[7] However, a 1918 list of place names collected by Kroeber and Waterman two years after Kroeber's 1916 publication[8] shows that the trail from Table Bluff along the peak of that feature was named "lalōekā".[10]

The Eel River and Eureka Railroad reached Swauger's Station from Humboldt Bay in 1883.[5] The Swauger post office opened in 1888, and changed its name to Loleta in 1898.[5] The Humboldt Creamery plant (originally Diamond Springs Creamery, eventually a co-operative of the Golden State Creamery)[11] opened in the town proper in 1893, and dairying continues to be a major economic influence. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reorganized Loleta's railroad as the San Francisco and Northwestern Railway in 1903 and then completed the Northwestern Pacific Railroad to San Francisco in 1914.[12]


Located 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Eel River, which drains 10 percent of the total California watershed, and four miles from the Pacific Ocean and Humboldt Bay, fishing has also been a significant economic factor in the local economy. In the early years of the 20th century, fish buyers from San Francisco congregated in Loleta every fall to bid on the salmon catch, which averaged $50,000.

There are two Humboldt County parks located near Loleta, generally to the west toward the Pacific Ocean: Crab County Park and Table Bluff County Park as well as several beach, dunes, and wetlands Public Land Areas.[13]

The Aleutian Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii leucopareia) has in recent years extended its spring staging area to Loleta. Flocks of over 400 individual birds may be seen in March.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[14]

The 2010 United States Census[15] reported that Loleta had a population of 783. The population density was 368.5 inhabitants per square mile (142.3/km2). The racial makeup of Loleta was 643 (82.1%) White, 12 (1.5%) African American, 16 (2.0%) Native American, 5 (0.6%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 65 (8.3%) from other races, and 42 (5.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 114 persons (14.6%).

The Census reported that 783 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 314 households, out of which 96 (30.6%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 135 (43.0%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 34 (10.8%) had a female householder with no husband present, 12 (3.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 40 (12.7%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 4 (1.3%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 97 households (30.9%) were made up of individuals, and 21 (6.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49. There were 181 families (57.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.17.

The population was spread out, with 186 people (23.8%) under the age of 18, 81 people (10.3%) aged 18 to 24, 207 people (26.4%) aged 25 to 44, 241 people (30.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 68 people (8.7%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.

There were 341 housing units at an average density of 160.5 per square mile (62.0/km2), of which 314 were occupied, of which 178 (56.7%) were owner-occupied, and 136 (43.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.7%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.2%. 460 people (58.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 323 people (41.3%) lived in rental housing units. Native Americans represent about 2% of Loleta's population, according to the 2010 US census.[15] Whites make up 82.1 percent of the population of 783 (less than the 807 inhabitants the census recorded in 1880).


Loleta is the seat of the Loleta Union School District,[16] and home of the Loleta Elementary School, a public K-8 school.[17]


Although agriculture and dairy have been salient factors in Loleta's economy, most residents work outside the community in neighboring cities.[18]

Downtown Loleta had a cheese factory which closed in December 2019,[19] a grocery store, a meat market, a bakery (closed March 2014),[20] a realty office, and a post office.[21] The Loleta Elementary school, two churches and the firefighter's pavilion, managed by local volunteer firefighters are closer to U.S. 101.

The Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria is headquartered in Loleta, where they operate the Bear River Casino.[22][23]

Popular culture[edit]

Loleta and Eureka were locations for filming the 1982 horror movie, Halloween III: Season of the Witch; scenes inside "the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory" were filmed in a former milk bottling plant for Familiar Foods on Loleta Drive at Railroad Avenue.[24][25]

"Drive," Season 6, Episode 2 of the hit show The X-files, features Loleta momentarily near the end of the episode.


In the state legislature, Loleta is in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Mike McGuire,[26] and the 2nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jim Wood.[27]

Federally, Loleta is in California's 2nd congressional district, represented by Democrat Jared Huffman.[28]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files – Places – California". United States Census Bureau.
  2. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Loleta, California
  3. ^ "Language – Wiyot Tribe". Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  4. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Loleta, California
  5. ^ a b c d Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 97. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  6. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup". Archived from the original on 2008-01-01.
  7. ^ a b Burns, Ryan (September 13, 2013). "'Let's Have Intercourse' - An Etymological Mystery". The NCJ Blogthing. North Coast Journal. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Kroeber, A. L. (June 15, 1916). "California Place Names of Indian Origin". University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology. 12 (3): 31–69. hdl:2027/uc1.31175034878598.
  9. ^ Karl Teeter, "Notes on Humboldt County, California, Place Names of Indian Origin," American Name Society Journal Names: A Journal of Onomastics 6:55-56(1958), 7:126(1959)
  10. ^ Loud, Llewellyn L (1918). "Ethnography and archaeology of the Wiyot territory". University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology. 14 & 15: 296. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  11. ^ Schwartzkopk, Chet. 1948. "Loleta - Self Sufficient Dairy Town: Famed for Fishing and Milk Products." Humboldt Times. December 19, 1948.
  12. ^ Stindt, Fred A. (1978). The Northwestern Pacific Railroad: Redwood Empire Route (3rd ed.). Kelseyville, California: Fred A. Stindt. pp. 40–41, 126&136. ASIN: B0007F4A2M.
  13. ^ Humboldt Bay Beaches, Dunes, and Wetlands. Map. Arcata: Friends of the Dunes, 2010.
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  15. ^ a b "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Loleta CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  16. ^ "Humboldt County Office of Education".
  17. ^ "Loleta Elementary School District".
  18. ^ Sheila L. Steinberg, Karen Brinton and Sabrina Riffel (2002). Loleta Community Report (PDF). Arcata, California: Department of Sociology, Humboldt State University. Retrieved March 22, 2013.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  19. ^ Sarah Beth Aubrey (2 October 2012). The Profitable Hobby Farm, How to Build a Sustainable Local Foods Business. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-1-118-49590-2.
  20. ^ Staff. (March 19, 2014). "Loleta Bakery: 'We're closing our doors'". Eureka Times-Standard. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  21. ^ Walters, Heidi (March 19, 2014). "One summer afternoon — with bread, meat and conversation". North Coast Journal. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  22. ^ Bear River Casino. 500 Nations. (retrieved 24 Feb 2009)
  23. ^ Stuart Thornton (13 December 2013). Moon Coastal California. Avalon Travel Publishing. pp. 624–. ISBN 978-1-61238-567-9.
  24. ^ "Halloween III: The Season of the Witch - Behind the Scenes". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  25. ^ Halloween III Season of the Witch filming locations, IMDB, accessed September 22, 2013.
  26. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  27. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  28. ^ "California's 2nd Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]