Jan. 31, 1880: Chute Landing, financed by William Laird Adam, J.H. Rice, Paul Bradley, A.J. Triplett, S.D. Triplett, J.K. Triplett, Charles Bradley, A. Leslie and other Santa Maria men, was incorporated.
Jan. 13, 1881: The Sisquoc Post Office opened with Frederick Wickenden as postmaster.
Jan. 1, 1883: An Odd Fellows lodge was chartered in Santa Maria.
January 1884: Exhumations began in moving bodies from Thornburgh Cemetery to the Santa Maria Cemetery.
January 1884: The Santa Maria Times moved into the first brick building located in the 100 block of South Broadway. The original building had been destroyed by fire the year before.
January 1891: Construction was started on the Santa Maria Union High School, and was finished in June 1892 at a cost of $12,000.
January 1897: Work began on the building of Union Sugar Factory. The first sugar produced at factory came to Santa Maria on Sept. 20, 1899.
Jan. 11, 1900: The Santa Maria Hotel went up in flames taking with it all of the wooden buildings in the area.
January 1901: “The Gap” was closed when the Southern Pacific Railroad coastline track was completed at Gaviota, thus eliminating the need to take a stage from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos to connect with the Narrow Gauge Railroad to San Luis Obispo.
January 1907: The Minerva Library Club purchased a lot for $750, a lot intended for use as the site of the Carnegie Library. However, Carnegie decided to use city property instead. The Minerva Club property is now owned by the First United Methodist Church.
Jan. 6, 1907: A storm rolling in from the ocean stalled above the Central Coast where it remained for four days, leaving the Lompoc Valley soaked with 7 inches of rain. Before the ordeal ended, train tracks and ties were torn up, the Robinson Bridge that had been enlarged the year before, collapsed and 40 acres of cropland were washed away. On the positive side, though, thousands of acres were layered with rich black sediment, the gophers were gone and Lompoc Valley’s flower industry began.
Jan. 7, 1907: Santa Maria Gas & Power Company was organized with Madison Thornbugh as president. Pipelines were put down from the Brookshire Oil Lease to Santa Maria. Natural gas began serving the city April 3.
January 1909: The Rev. Junjo Izumida arrived in Guadalupe as the first resident minister of the Guadalupe Buddhist Church.
Jan. 18, 1910: The Women’s Improvement Club took on the Board Of Trustees (now the City Council) for allowing Buena Vista Park to be used as a smallpox quarantine camp, calling it a “menace to the public!”
Jan. 27, 1913: Frank Crakes became the city’s first assistant fire chief, earning $25 per month. Firemen received $2 an hour, but only while they were fighting fires.
Jan. 24, 1916: The Supreme Court declared income tax constitutional.
January 1919: The Automobile Club of Southern California opened its 15th branch office in Santa Maria.
Jan. 15, 1920: Twenty-one local girls met to form the A to Z Club.
Jan. 16, 1920: Prohibition began.
Jan. 18, 1924: Fire broke out at the Chinese Buddhist Church in Guadalupe. The fire spread to surrounding structures, with damage estimated to be $100,000.
January 1927: County Hospital opened with nine private rooms (five large and four small), two three-bed wards and two two-bed wards.
January 1927: The property at Boone & Lincoln, the future site of the Minerva Club’s clubhouse, cleared escrow.
Jan. 5, 1929: The city’s population reached 7,097, while 11,500 people lived in the valley.
Jan. 21, 1929: For the first time in many years, the hills surrounding Santa Maria were covered with snow.
Jan. 30, 1929: The Daily Times reported that 16,500 acres of valley property were being leased by oil companies.
Jan. 15, 1933: The new St. Peter’s Episcopal Church was consecrated.
Jan. 1, 1934: Ground breaking took place for the new City Hall, the first city-owned municipal building.
January 1939: Vaqueros de Los Rancheros began at a meeting held at the Commercial Hotel in Guadalupe. Among the Charter members were Dan Sheehy, Charles Maretti, Charlie Campodonico, Bob Camp, Eddie Fields and George Petersen.
Jan. 1, 1943: Leo Preisker, who served as Santa Barbara County’s 5th District supervisor for 27 years, officially retired.
January 1944: Santa Maria Valley Railroad’s depot was destroyed by fire.
Jan. 30, 1945: A P-38 airplane, on routine maneuvers, crashed into Rusconi’s Café, tearing the roof off of the Economy Drug Store. Mrs. Rusconi, John Doff, a cook and pilot Elmer Steffy, were killed in the crash. Two hours later, another P-38 crashed in a field two miles southwest of Santa Maria.
January 1946: The Santa Maria Valley Roping and Riding Club was formed.
Jan. 7, 1947: The Santa Maria Country Club incorporated as a nonprofit corporation.
Jan. 10, 1949: .03 inches of snow blanketed Santa Maria, the first snow in 33 years.
Jan. 26, 1949: The Santa Maria Times announced that dial telephones were soon to be installed in Orcutt.
January 1951: Morris Stephan was sworn in as Justice of the Peace of the 7th Judicial District of Santa Maria. By a decree of the Superior Court, the Justice Court became the Municipal Court in 1961. Stephan was later appointed by the governor as judge of the Superior Court in Santa Barbara County. He retired from the bench in 1972, after having served in judicial offices for 22 years.
January 1953: The USO in Santa Maria closed.
Jan. 1, 1953: Associated Telephone Company became General Telephone of California.
Jan. 15, 1955: William Macdonald, who formed the Macdonald Seed Company on Bonita Road in 1925, was killed in a car wreck near El Capitan, some 30 miles north of Santa Barbara.
January 1959: This is Our Valley came off the press.
Jan. 9, 1961: The swing of a sledge hammer by Santa Maria Mayor Casey Kyle marked the beginning of the demolition of the first section of Whiskey Row to make way for the First Western Bank and Trust building on the northwest corner of Main and McClelland streets.
January 1963: Whiskey Row was demolished.
Jan. 26, 1963: Rex Café, located on the corner of Main and Broadway, was torn down.
January 1964: The Santa Maria Jewish congregation voted to purchase 12⁄3 acres of land on Alvin Street (for $12,500) in order to build a synagogue.
Jan. 17, 1965: El Camino Junior High School was dedicated to John Thornburgh.
Jan. 18, 1968: The Santa Maria Bank building, standing on the northwest corner of Main and Broadway, became a pile of rubble as it was demolished to make way for a Mobile Oil service station.
Jan. 20, 1968: Union Sugar Company announced the closing of the town of Betteravia. The Betteravia Store, operated by Jack Burrow for 22 years, had a half-price sale to empty the store. Burrow had taken over the store in 1946.
Jan. 20, 1974: The dedication and grand opening of the Santa Maria Valley Historical Museum took place at its new home at 606 S. Broadway. The museum had been built on surplus city property with funds raised by the Historical Society’s members.
January 1987: Pine Grove Cemetery became part of the Santa Maria Cemetery District.
January 1990: Butch Simas was elected to the Santa Maria Sports Hall of Fame.
January 1993: Nipomo’s Community Presbyterian Church was dedicated.
January 1993: Scoop Nunes, Santa Maria’s “Mr. Baseball,” was inducted into the Santa Maria Hall of Fame. He had been inducted into the National Semi-Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in Wichita, Kan., in August 1977.
Jan. 10, 2006: Judge Zell Canter announced his retirement after having served almost 25 years on the Superior Court bench of Santa Barbara County.
Shirley Contreras lives in Orcutt and writes for the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. She can be contacted at 934-3514 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her book, “The Good Years,” a selection of stories she’s written for the Santa Maria Times since 1991, is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.