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20 Interesting And Bizarre Facts About Coalinga, California, United States

Coalinga is a city in Fresno County and the western San Joaquin Valley, in central California. Take a look below for 20 interesting and bizarre facts about Coalinga, California, United States.

1. It was formerly known as Coaling Station A, Coalingo, and Coalinga Station.

2. The population was 13,380 as of the 2010 census, up from 11,668 at the 2000 census.

3. It is the site of both Pleasant Valley State Prison and Coalinga State Hospital.

4. It is also home to Harris Ranch.

5. Legendary bandit Joaquin Murrieta was killed in 1853 at his headquarters, Arroyo de Cantua, north of Coalinga.

6. California Historical Landmark #344 marks the approximate site of where he was slain, near the junction of present-day State Route 33 and Route 198.

7. Before 20th-century diesel locomotives, steam locomotives were used, and powered in the San Joaquin Valley by burning coal mined from the northern foothills of Mount Diablo to the north.

8. The Southern Pacific Railroad Company 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.

9. However, it is just as likely that the small railside signs of the day, which often abbreviated names, read “COALINGA” to mean “Coaling A.”

10. The resemblance to Nahuatl is accidental.

11. The first post office was established in 1899.

12. The city was incorporated in 1906.

13. On May 2, 1983, Coalinga was struck by an earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.5, which nearly destroyed more than 300 homes and apartment buildings; another 691 buildings suffered major damage, and hundreds more had minor damage.

14. Damage was severe in downtown Coalinga–the eight–block commercial district was almost totally destroyed. 

15. The shock was felt as far away as Los Angeles and western Nevada, and was followed by a series of aftershocks that caused additional minor damage and some injuries. Only one death was reported: a man who succumbed to a heart attack.

16. Underlying rock formations include the occurrence of Vaqueros sandstone. Surrounding the town in a semicircle from the west, around the north, and to the east are several anticlinal formations containing considerable accumulations of petroleum as the Coalinga Oil Field, from which oil has been withdrawn for more than a hundred years.

17. The city is located near a particularly active portion of the San Andreas Fault, and earthquakes are frequent.

18. The Harris Ranch is a major local cattle ranch, which also features a hotel, several restaurants, and a gift shop for travelers. It is located on Interstate 5 east of Coalinga. The Harris Ranch Airport is nearby.

19. The Horned Toad Derby is held in Coalinga in late May over the Memorial Day weekend annually. The three-day event is similar to the more famous Jumping Frog Jubilee held in Calaveras County, California, but utilizes locally caught horned toads (lizards) rather than frogs. The tradition began in 1935.

20. The WHAMOBASS Balloon Rally is hosted by Coalinga annually on the November weekend closest to Montgolfiere Day (November 21) every year. It’s the longest consecutively running annual hot air balloon rally in the world. It is 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 Coalinga. A small number fly on Friday and occasionally on Thursday.

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