History and Map

Europeans first contacted the Chumash in 1542, when three Spanish ships under the command of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo explored the area. The Santa Barbara Channel received its name from Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno when he sailed along the California coast in 1602; his ships entered the channel on December 4, the day of the feast of Santa Barbara.

The first land expedition, led by Gaspar de Portolà, explored the coastal area in 1769, on its way to Monterey Bay. The DeAnza expeditions of 1774-76 followed Portola’s trail.

Following the Mexican secularization of the missions in the 1830s, the mission pasture lands were mostly broken up into large ranchos and granted mainly to prominent local citizens.

Santa Barbara County was one of the 27 original counties of California.

State Historical Landmarks