California State Park System

Safe beaches and a welcoming downtown drew tent-to-tent campers to Carpinteria as far back as the early 1900s. This photo, taken in 1941, shows the early years of the campground when it became part of the California State Park System.

Aside from added landscaping and updated cars and camping gear, the view from the Carpinteria State Beach campground has not changed much since this photo was snapped in 1941. The railroad still stripes the background, the trees on Palm Avenue are much the same, and today’s Palm Loft Apartments at the end of the street were designed to match the lemon packing house pictured above.

Despite the similarities captured in the photo 78 years ago, much has changed at the campground over its long history in Carpinteria. In the early 1900s, when automobile travel began to catch on, the field and sand dunes besides Linden Avenue would fill with campers for the summer. Longtime Carpinteria local Bonnie Milne remembers families who set up camp for the entire summer—the men returning home to work during the week after playing at the Carpinteria beach all weekend.

“That was our fun time,” said Milne, who established friendships with the camping crowd. “We didn’t do anything else except go to the beach all day.”

Thomas Fish owned the campground from 1922 until it became a State Park in 1932. At that point, the state and county spent $106,010 to jointly purchase the portion of the present park west of Carpinteria Creek. Since then, the park has expanded to the east and now encompasses 85 acres of Carpinteria’s beach-front property.

To learn more about Carpinteria’s unique and interesting past, visit the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History, open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at 956 Maple Ave.

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