Loleta (formerly, Swauger and Swauger's Station) is an unincorporated community in Humboldt County, California. It is located 5.5 miles (9 km) south of Fields Landing, at an elevation of 46 feet (14 m).
First settled by whites in the early 1850s, the town was originally known as Swauger's Station, but has been called Loleta since 1897; the name means "pleasant place at the end of the tide water" in the language of the original Wiyot native inhabitants. Wiyots still make up the largest single ethnic minority in Loleta, according to the 2000 US census, at 4 percent of the population. Whites make up 85.5 percent of the population of 750 (less than the 807 inhabitants the census recorded in 1880).
Dairying has long been a major economic influence, with the Humboldt Creamery plant (originally Diamond Springs Creamery) in the town proper opening in 1893. Potato farming was the biggest agricultural use of land until the 1870s, when depleted soil and declining prices caused a turn to dairying.
Located as it is one mile 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.
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.
Loleta is the seat of the Loleta Union School District, and home of the Loleta Elementary School, a public K-8 school.
Downtown Loleta consists of a grocery store, a bakery, and a post office. Close to the freeway is the school, Loleta Elementary, a Catholic church and a Protestant church. There is a independent media development house, Bandicoot12 Studios. The most notable building in town is the firefighter's pavilion, managed by the local volunteer firefighters.
The town is known for the Loleta Cheese Factory, which ships cheese worldwide.
The Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria is headquartered in Loleta, where they operate the Bear River Casino.
Loleta and Eureka were locations for filming the 1982 horror movie, Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
The Northwest school mystic artist, Morris Graves lived in Loleta from 1964 until his death in 2001, in a house designed by Seattle architect Ibsen Nelson.
In the state legislature Loleta is located in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Pat Wiggins, and in the 1st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Patty Berg. Federally, Loleta is located in California's 1st congressional district.