Permanent Displays

Four Men

Four men were responsible for donating the four quarter sections of land that became the intersection of Broadway and Main streets and form the nucleus of present-day Santa Maria. Rudolph Cook located on the southeast corner in 1869. John Thornburgh, who migrated west with his family in 1871 because of ill health, took the southwest corner. Arriving from Missouri by wagon train, Isaac Fesler purchased the northwest corner. The fourth party, Isaac Miller, settled the remaining corner. In 1874, these four men donated forty acres of land where their properties adjoined and laid out Central City, destined to become Santa Maria in 1905.

Old Maude and the Oil Boom

On December 2, 1904, Hartnell No. 1, the first producing well on Hartnell property, came in with such force that it became one of the great wonders of California. The tremendous excitement that Old Maude, as the well, was nicknamed, created is captured in a description of the event by Jack Reed, a member of the crew that brought the gusher in: "then with a roar, a column of oil and gas shoots up through the rig floor to a height of 150 feet. Oil begins pouring down the gullies and creek beds. We have the biggest producer the world has ever seen. We can't control it, what with 12,000 barrels of oil pouring out every day." Old Maude produced one million barrels of oil in her first 100 days.


First of the rancho owners in this area to occupy his land and establish his family on it, was Don Julian Foxen. Diego Olivera built the first dwelling in the western portion of the valley on Guadalupe Rancho. At the eastern end of the Valley, on the Tepesquet grant originally obtained by Don Tomas Olivera, Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros and his wife, Martina, established themselves and their family in 1855. It was Ontiveros who named the little creek that flowed lazily past his place Santa Maria Creek; that is until the winter of 1861-62, when it showed its true river nature during a rainy spell that lasted for thirty days and nights, turning the trickling creek into a raging torrent. After that, it became known as the Santa Maria River.

Capt. G. Allan Hancock

An entire room in the Museum is dedicated to Capt. G. Allan Hancock, entrepreneur, oil man, railroader, aviator, mariner, business man, musician, philanthroper, and more for the City of Santa Maria. He's probably best known in Santa Maria for the college which bears his name, Allan Hancock College. Here's a brief rundown of his exploits as published by the College.

And More...

Of course, there are many other exhibits at the Museum that you'll want to explore.