Independence (formerly, Putnam's, Little Pine, and Putnams) is a census-designated place and the county seat of Inyo County, California. Independence is located 40 miles (64 km) south-southeast of Bishop, at an elevation of 3930 feet (1198 m). The population was 574 at the 2000 census. Independence is home to the Eastern California Museum . The home of author Mary Austin is preserved as a museum located at 235 Market Street in Independence.
It is on U.S. Route 395, the main north-south artery through the Owens Valley, connecting the Inland Empire to Reno, Nevada. US 395 also connects Independence to Los Angeles via State Route 14 through Palmdale.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 4.0 square miles (10.4 km²), all 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 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 on July 7, 1989. The lowest recorded temperature was -5°F on January 9, 1937. There are an average of 97.7 days annually with highs of 90F° (32°C) or higher and an anaverage 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.
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 Native Americans.
As of the census 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/sq mi (33.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 88.85% White, 3.48% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.87% Pacific Islander, 3.31% from other races, and 2.79% from two or more races. 7.14% 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 located in the 18th Senate District, represented by Republican Roy Ashburn, and in the 18th Assembly District, represented by Republican Bill Maze. Federally, Independence is located in California's 25th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +7 and is represented by Republican Buck McKeon.