Fillmore was founded in 1888 by Jerome A. Fillmore, General Superintendent of the Southern Pacific Railroad. On August 1, 1888, a street map of the town of Fillmore was recorded in the Ventura County Courthouse. By 1900 Fillmore had a population of 150. The first schoolhouse was built in 1874. It was 20 by 30 feet (6.1 by 9.1 meters) with three windows on each side. The first graduating class of Fillmore High School was in 1911 with four students. 1889 saw the first commercial orange grove planted in Fillmore. During the “orange rush” of 1897, the Fillmore Citrus Fruit Association was formed and would eventually become Sunkist Growers. Fillmore’s first orange packing house was built at the corner of Sespe Avenue and A Street, on property purchased for $50 (sources: Fillmore Chamber of Commerce and Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau).
Fillmore still has a kind of small-town atmosphere which is becoming increasingly rare in suburbanized Ventura County. The farms of nearby Bardsdale, as well as the town's relatively remote location away from the sprawl of the West and South parts of the County, have helped preserved this atmosphere.
Fillmore is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 km² (2.8 mi²), all land.(34.401276, -118.917749)
Fillmore is a small valley town in Northern Ventura County just below the San Cayetano Mountain peak in the Los Padres National Forest. Fillmore is located in the Santa Clara River Valley. Fillmore is also located within an historic Ventura County agricultural and tree-farming belt. Educational facilities include one high school, one middle school, and 5 elementary schools. Sespe Condor Sanctuary, where the critically endangered California Condor are recovering, lies to the north. The nearby Sespe Creek is a tributary of the Santa Clara River. It is primarily served by State Highways 126 and 23.
Fillmore has classic "turn of the century" downtown architecture, a one-screen theater, an historic train depot, - the Fillmore and Western Railway - a much photographed city hall, and many unique shops and businesses, including a local winery operation. It is home to Elkins Ranch Golf Course. The small farming community of Bardsdale is located about three miles (5 km) from Fillmore, directly across the Santa Clara River. Also located nearby are a fish hatchery and the Sespe Creek and Sespe Wilderness, home to the California Condor Sespe sanctuary.
Because of its preserved downtown, Fillmore is a popular filming location for television and movies. The January 4, 2007 episode of CSI entitled Leaving Las Vegas prominently featured old-town Fillmore as the fictional town of "Larkston, Nevada". Parts of the television series Jericho and Big Love are also filmed there.
Fillmore's economy is still largely driven by agriculture. Most agricultural industry in the Fillmore area is related to orange, lemon, avocado orchard farming and packing and, more recently, specimen tree farming. To a lesser extent, row crop farming and small industry and assembly are also present in and near Fillmore and in other parts of the Santa Clara Valley. The single largest employer is the Fillmore Unified School District.
The City of Fillmore is an established municipality within Ventura County, founded in 1888 and incorporated on July 10, 1914. The city is governed by a five-person council with the position of mayor and mayor pro-tem elected by the council every two years. Council members serve four-year terms. As of January 2009, the current mayor is Patti Walker, and the council members are Gayle Washburn (Mayor pro-tem), Jamey Brooks, Steve Conaway, and Laurie Hernandez.
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,643 people, 3,762 households, and 3,032 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,894.8/km² (4,910.8/mi²). There were 3,852 housing units at an average density of 535.0/km² (1,386.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 12.54% White, 0.32% African American, 1.41% Native American, 0.97% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, and 5.1% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 80.63% of the population.
There were 3,762 households out of which 45.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.3% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.4% were non-families. 16.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.56 and the average family size was 3.94.
In the city the population was spread out with 32.3% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 101.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $45,510, and the median income for a family was $47,449. Males had a median income of $34,441 versus $24,660 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,010. About 11.4% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.3% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.
In 1987, the City of Fillmore contracted with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department to provide protection for Fillmore, Barsdale and Piru, an area with over 450 square miles (1,200 km2). Fillmore's Police Department is headed by Capt. Tim Hagel, 5 Patrol Sergeants, 2 Detectives, 35 regular deputies, 1 cadet and 1 dispatcher, 2 Sheriff's Store Front. Fillmore is also served by three Sheriff's Store Front Locations, a Juvenile Liaison Program with the School District, Citizens Patrol Disaster Response Team, Fillmore Mountain Search and Rescue Team and Citizens Patrol.
The Fillmore Police Department has a Bike Patrol Unit, which consists of eight specially trained deputies. The Bike Patrol is utilized for proactive patrols, civic events, enforcement of public nuisance crimes, and other team operations. Each year the Santa Clara Valley Station offers a Bike Rodeo for the youth in the community.
Also, the Fillmore Station is home to a Special Enforcement Detail that provides a variety of specialized duties including gang enforcement, tagging/graffiti investigations, and alcohol beverage control. This unit is utilized for any specific crime concerns that are beyond the scope of normal patrol resources.
In August 2001, the City of Fillmore introduced its first traffic enforcement motorcycle, a BMW bike, which was purchased with technology grant funds from the State. The motor officer's primary duty is to enforce traffic laws within the city and to investigate traffic accidents that occur within the city limits. The officer is trained in accident reconstruction, skid marks analysis, and accident investigation.*
Furthermore, during certain events, such as the Fillmore 4th of July Festival extra law enforcement is required to patrol in order to maintain safety regulations.