Coalinga (pronounced /ˌkoʊ.əˈlɪŋɡə/ or /kəˈlɪŋɡə/; formerly, Coaling Station, Coalingo and Coalinga Station) is a city in Fresno County, California. The population was 11,668 at the 2000 census and was estimated at 18,061 in 2007. It is the site of both Pleasant Valley State Prison and Coalinga State Hospital. Coalinga is located 52 miles (84 km) southwest of Fresno,at an elevation of 673 feet (205 m).
Legendary bandit Joaquin Murrieta was killed in 1853 north of Coalinga. California Historical Landmark 344 near the intersection of what are now State Routes 33 and 198. The area marks the approximate site of his headquarters, Arroyo de Cantua, where he was slain.
In the early years of railroading, before the extensive development of oil production in California, the steam locomotives were powered by the burning of coal obtained from the northern foothills of Mount Diablo. The Southern Pacific Railway established the site as a coaling station in 1888, and it was called simply Coaling Station A. Local tradition has it that an official of Southern Pacific made the name more sonorous by adding an a to it.
The first post office was established in 1899. The city incorporated in 1906.
Coalinga's water was so full of minerals, that potable water had to be brought in by railroad in tanker cars from Armona, California. For many years, "Armona Water" was the only drinking water residents could drink. And Coalinga was one of only a few towns in the US that had three taps, one for hot water, one for cold water, and one for drinking water. Finally, in the early 1960s, Coalinga held the first practical demonstration for reverse osmosis (RO), and its Armona water was replaced by RO water.
On May 2, 1983, Coalinga was struck by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that destroyed more than 800 houses and other buildings; it was felt as far away as Los Angeles and western Nevada.
The Coalinga area is a generally level topographic setting, suitable for a number of field crops which do not require large amounts of water. Underlying rock formations include the occurence of Vaqueros sandstone.
Today, the city's main industries are agriculture, oil and incarceration. The city is home to the Harris Ranch Beef Company; the Coalinga Oil Field, operated by Chevron and Aera Energy; Pleasant Valley State Prison; and Coalinga State Hospital.
Coalinga is home to California's first new mental health hospital in more than 50 years: a 1,500-bed facility built specifically to house sexually violent predators. Coalinga State Hospital opened in September 2005.
Coalinga is the site of the primary campus of West Hills College, which is part of the California Community Colleges system. Its children are served by the Coalinga-Huron Unified School District, of which Coalinga High School is a part.
At the census of 2000, there were 11,668 people, 3,515 households, and 2,632 families residing in the city. These included 805 people who were living in group homes.
The racial makeup of Coalinga under those circumstances was 57.3 percent white, 2.4 percent African American, 1.5 percent Native American, 1.7 percent Asian, 0.2 percent Pacific Islander, 32.3 percent from other races, and 4.6 percent from two or more races. About half the population was Hispanic or Latino.
The median age in 2000 was 28.6 years, younger than the 33.3 figure for California and the 35.3 figure for the United States as a whole.
The median income for a family was $41,208, about $11,000 less than for other families in California or the country at large.
The Coalinga Chamber of Commerce Web site in 2007 estimated a population of 18,061 for the city.
|2000 figures||Coalinga||California||United States|
|Med. home value||$86,900||$211,500||$119,600|
|High school diploma||65.0%||76.8%||80.4%|
Notes: "Family income" is median family income in 1999 dollars. "Med. home value" is the median value of single-family houses. "Poverty families" is the percentage of families with incomes below the poverty level. "High school diploma" is the percentage of people 25 years and over who had graduated from high school.
The Harris Ranch, a major cattle ranch which also features a hotel, several restaurants, and a gift shop, is east of Coalinga, near Interstate 5.
Coalinga hosts the Horned Toad Derby each year over the Memorial Day weekend in late May.The three-day event is similar to the more famous Jumping Frog Jubilee held in Calaveras County, California, but utilizes locally caught horned toads rather than frogs. This tradition began in 1935.
On the November weekend closest to Montgolfiere Day (November 21) each year, Coalinga is host to the annual WHAMOBASS Balloon Rally, the longest consecutively running annual hot air balloon rally in the world, sponsored by the Whiskey Hill Atherton Menlo Oaks Ballooning & Sporting Society Typically more than 40 balloons ascend at dawn on Saturday and Sunday morning from the athletic field of West Hills College. A small number fly on Friday and occasionally on Thursday.