Proud of Our Past

The Chumash Indians, the area’s first inhabitants, referred to this beautiful seaside valley as Mishopshno, meaning “correspondence,” as it was a center of trade.  In 1769 Spanish explorers led by Gaspar de Portolá came upon a group of Chumash splitting redwood logs, hand-hewing planks and constructing large, seagoing canoes they called tomols.  Fr. Crespi had christened the place San Roque, but the soldiers dubbed it La Carpinteria, or the Carpenters Shop. Spanish settlers, Mexican and Anglo-American pioneers, and immigrants from many lands followed, farming the rich soil and putting down their family roots in and around the village of Carpinteria.   

Understanding and appreciating Carpinteria Valley history is an important aspect of preserving the area’s rich cultural heritage.  The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History provides a fascinating glimpse into the Valley’s past.  A variety of unique exhibits examine the three major cultures that have made this valley their homes: The Native American Chumash, the early Spanish and Mexican settlers, and the American and immigrant pioneers whose farms, shops, churches and schools laid the foundation of today’s city.    Click here to view a slide show of museum images.

Museum exhibits include Chumash artifacts from the hunting and gathering culture of these industrious Native Americans; a Californio adobe rancho scene reflecting the great Mexican cattle-ranching period; and Victorian home furnishings; a farm house kitchen; farming and blacksmith implements and saddles; a one-room schoolhouse; early oil development and asphalt mining; agricultural history; the village of Summerland, World War I, and much more. In the museum’s archives a rare collection of historic photographs documents the town’s early businesses, its notable citizens, its beautiful landscapes, and the men and women who developed the farms and labored in the fertile fields.   

Involved in the spirit of the community, the Museum hosts special exhibits, an arts & crafts street faire, school tours and children’s programs, and the "last-Saturday-of-the-month"   Museum Marketplace flea markets.

"Carpinteria Then and Now", a one-hour narrated 'Ken Burns-style" video chronicling the history of Carpinteria Valley, is now available on a new DVD entitled "The Carpinteria Collection", which also has bonus videos on the story of the Salt Marsh Nature Park, Carpinteria Creeks, and a celebration of the city’s 40th anniversary of incorporation.  The DVD can be enjoyed by all ages and is available at the Museum gift shop.