Chowchilla, CA: A Historical Jewel in Madera County
Chowchilla, a city in Madera County, California, is steeped in history. The city’s name originates from a local Native American tribe known as the Chowchilla Indians, also referred to as Horse-thief Indians. The city was officially established on May 22, 1912, when Robertson purchased the Chowchilla Ranch from the California Pastoral and Agricultural Company Ltd.
The city’s geography places it 16 miles northwest of Madera, at an elevation of 220 feet. This location offers residents a unique blend of rural charm and suburban amenities.
One of the influential figures in Chowchilla’s history is Orlando Robertson, a Virginia land speculator who laid out the town of Chowchilla and started a promotional campaign advertising Chowchilla as a prosperous agricultural area.
Significant landmarks in Chowchilla include the Chowchilla Historical Society & Museum, which has been collecting artifacts, documents, and stories since 1983.
As per the 2020 Census, Chowchilla had a population of 19,039. Today, Chowchilla continues to be a vibrant community, maintaining its historical roots while embracing the conveniences of modern living.
One tragic yet significant event in the city’s history was the Chowchilla bus kidnapping in 1976, where 26 school children and their bus driver were kidnapped and buried alive in a tractor trailer. This shocking event has left an indelible mark on the city’s history.