History of Holtville, California
From: The History of Imperial County, California
Edited by: F. C. Farr
Published by: Elms and Franks
Berkeley, CA 1918

HOLTVILLE
BY JOHN BAKER

THIS picturesque little city built from the cactus and mesquite and desert soil into one of the most beautiful of the lovely towns fringing the Western Valley of the Nile, is one of the most prosperous and attractive of Imperial Valley, and very properly entitled to its cognomen, "The Gem City."

Holtville was given its charter in 1903, and since that time the growth has been steady, and the residents who have come to this especially rich and fertile section of the great desert country are now more than reaping the results that always follow the arduous workings and efforts of the pioneer. Only fifteen years old, this beautiful town is forging ahead, and paved, well lighted streets will be the culmination of the Commercial Club's dream and efforts in the very near future. It is generally conceded that Holtville is the prettiest town of the many that have made the great Imperial Valley famous throughout the United States and the world. This great beauty is due to the many trees that border the streets, giant palms, peppers and cottonwood trees making most grateful shade and relief from the glare of the summer sun.

Situated at the eastern boundary of the Valley, with a population now reaching considerably over the fifteen hundred mark, Holtville is now among the foremost dairying sections in the world. Alfalfa ranches are everywhere testifying to the great fertility and productiveness of the hundred thousand acres or more, which are tributary to the town. Not only have cattle and dairying industries formed an important factor in the growth of this particular locality and the calling in of many of the most expert ranchers of the east and middle west, but hog raising, which is one of the most profitable industries in the world today, and at this writing one of the most timely, has reached the pinnacle of its development here. And in this connection it is only fitting that mention should be made of the wonderful work that is being accomplished by the pupils of the high school and the grammar schools of Holtville under the careful guidance of their teachers in the building up of Pig Clubs. These clubs have stimulated lavishly the interest in raising of pigs and hogs by the sons and daughters of the ranchers, and some exceptional results have been obtained by these embryo farmers and farm women.

In the cattle raising industry, one of the great commercial features that has placed this city in the front ranks is the production of butter. A large percentage of the most successful farmers of this section can trace their rise to the first string of cows with which they started out in the dairying business. The wonderful creamery which was established in Holtville a few years ago, and which has been added to and improved as conditions warranted, is pointed to with pride by every person showing the prospective resident about the country. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of butter are shipped monthly from this district, and the average daily output of butter alone from the Holtville Co-operative Creamery is over three thousand pounds. Scientific cattle raising, which implies the raising of the best stocks, and the culling of all unprofitable "boarders from among the strings," has resulted in dairying and cattle raising reaching a marvelous point of success here.

The agricultural survey is developed to a point quite as successful as are the other branches of the farming industry in the Imperial Valley. Wonderful crops of asparagus, okra, lettuce, spinach, and all sorts of garden truck are grown here, and one of the local men claims to have made a thousand dollars an acre from the growing of cucumbers sent out to meet the demand of an early and epicurean eastern market. These cucumbers are also sent to the northern part of the state, and tomatoes are another delicacy that delights the palate of the epicurean sent out from this vicinity as early as the first of February.

At the present time Holtville is experiencing an unusual boom, owing, probably, to the likelihood of the opening at a near distant date of the wonder lands on the east side mesa, which are regarded as the most favored, naturally, of any lands in the whole Imperial Valley. The opening of this vast and fertile section will mean the ingress of hundreds of wide awake, progressive ranchers from all parts of the United States, and will result in a phenomenal growth of the city itself, which is the logical shopping district for the entire east side. The growing of cotton has been marvelously successful during the past three years. It is now past the experimental stage entirely, and great profits have been attained by those who have taken a chance on this industry. There are several cotton gins here, and the building of a co-operative gin this year is one of the projects that is already financed by some of the most substantial farmers here. The wonderful fertility of the soil permits of crops more varied than in any other section of the world, and among the other profitable crops grown must be placed the different grains, and corn. Great quantities of corn are raised here, and are always sure of a ready market, on account of the hog industry particularly. The day of the large land holder has steadily been on the wane, and today Holtville owes much of the steady growth of its prosperity to the fact that land holders are now possessors usually of less than two hundred acres at the most, which results in better business for the town's tradespeople, and in better results to the rancher who is no longer burdened with more land than he can successfully cultivate.

Holtville itself is one of the most progressive cities to be found in an agricultural district anywhere. The churches and the schools are a credit to her enterprise. The schools are looked upon with amazement by the newcomers and visitors, who express surprise that schools are established here that rank favorably with schools anywhere else in the state, under the most capable supervision and instruction, and that they are accredited to all of the universities. Holtville is likely prouder of its school system which is regarded as one of the most perfeect in the southern part of the state than of any other feature of its civic life.

Of the churches it may be said that there are six, of as many denominations, all seemingly prosperous and flourishing.

There are a number of clubs and fraternal organizations in the city and a woman's club, which is distinguished for its public spiritedness and its interest in every project of civic betterment. A woman's club house will likely be considered before a great while, and when completed will fill an important need.

The City Hall is an institution of which Holtville is inordinately proud. It stands on record as being the only building of its kind erected solely by public subscription in the United States. It is a handsome structure of mission style, and reflects the greatest possible credit on the liberality of the citizens who made such a building possible. In this work the woman's club took a prominent part in the securing of funds and much of the credit for the work belongs to their enterprise and perseverance.

The latest step along the lines of progress has been the voting of bonds for sewer outputs and paving. The latter means one of the most necessary and important movements that the citizens have ever taken up; it will result in increased prosperity and immeasurable satisfaction.

There are two flourishing banks in Holtville - the First National and the Holtville Bank, of which the latter is the newer, and which is gaining steadily in public favor.

The shopping district of Holtville, while small, is comprehensive, and the new resident on nearby ranches and farms finds himself unusually favored in the matter of purchasing supplies and equipment of all kinds. Within the last year a decided impetus has been given shopping of all kinds, and among the most important enterprises in the town are its hardware stores where farm equipment and specialties of all kinds may be procured as easily and satisfactorily as in metropolitan cities. The housewife finds all her needs to have been anticipated at the stores which are exceptional and which are constantly improving and going ahead.

An artesian water belt running through the eastern part of the Valley makes it possible for farmers to sink wells and find plenty of good water for drinking and household purposes at a depth of only a few hundred feet, which is likely to vary in different localities. This is the only belt of artesian water in the whole \Talley, and is an added point in which Nature has smiled upon this particular section of the country. In this connection one thinks of the Natatorium, which is the only thing of the kind in the whole Valley, and the place where hundreds of bathers gather all during the summer from points all over the Valley for cooling dips and frolics in the cooling waters. Last year the Natatorium had the most successful run in its history, and this year will likely double its popularity, as it is to be again under the same management.

In many respects Holtville is in a class entirely by itself. It is slightly below sea level, but when sleeping in a second story chamber one rests entirely above sea level. The city is particularly and peculiarly healthful, and but very little illness is ever manifested here. In fact much of its population can be directly traced to the reputation it bears for healthfulness which is a fine thing for the town, but a poor field for members of the medical fraternity.

When the great southern National Highway is completed Holtville will be the first point of entry to the tourists and homeseekers who will be lured hither. Combine this project with the opening of the great east side mesa, and it would appear to the most skeptical that Holtville's future was doubly assured. Its progressiveness has only started. Beautified with thousands and thousands of trees that make for comfort and coolness, with an incomparable reputation for healthfulness, with exceptional school facilities, with crop prospects that cannot be discounted in any corner of the globe, with shipping facilities, and commercial equipments of the best, the "Gem" city bids fair to become in a few short years the most important, as well as the most prosperous of all the towns in the Valley.

As is true of every town of the Valley, society has not developed to any appreciable degree of exclusion. As in all new countries, persons are accepted for their character, and not for their other attainments. Ability to pioneer marks the stepping stone of those who occupy prominent places in the happy social atmosphere of a community that is not circumscribed and hedged with social conventions that must of necessity exist in larger and older localities.

Summed up, we find that Holtville's claim to popularity and distinction is gained from the enterprise of its farmers and ranchers, from its schools, from the great fertility of the soil of the surrounding thousands and thousands of acres, from which crops may be derived more easily than from any other land in the world. It is derived from a spirit of co-operation among its citizens and townspeople that is not only commendable but tremendously unusual. Its activities are as varied as could be in any community with its creameries, cotton gins, its cattle and hog shipping, and its marvelous crops. Besides the municipal attainments that have been accomplished from time to time, with a reputation for health that is unparalleled, Holtville must, by virtue of its remarkable natural possessions, be destined to become one of the largest and most prosperous cities of the great Imperial Valley. Its citizens alive to the future and the possibilities that future will offer are working in a harmony of purpose and largeness of motive that presages a wonderful prosperity for Holtville in the future as in the past.


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