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Tehama County, California

Tehama County administrative offices are located at 727 Oak Street, Red Bluff, CA 96080; phone: 530‑527‑4655.


Beginnings [1]

Tehama County was occupied by two tribal groups at the time of European-American contact. For approximately 4,500 years, archaeological records state that the Yana and their predecessors occupied the area from the Round Mountains near the Pit River in Shasta County, to Deer Creek in Tehama County. The Nomlaki (Central Wintun) were relative newcomers by comparison, having arrived from the north only 400 years ago. This tribe generally occupied the area spanning 10 miles east of the Sacramento River into the coastal range, in what is now Glenn and Tehama Counties.

The Mexican Land Grants of the mid-1800s brought many European-Americans to present-day Tehama County in 1844. The first major landowners in the area included Josiah Beldon, William George, Job F. Dye, Robert Hasty Thomes, Albert G. Toomes, and Peter Lassen. In honor of Senator Thomas H. Benton of Missouri, Lassen laid out the original townsite of Benton City, located near today's community of Vina. However, due to the discovery of gold, most of the settlers were drawn to the hills, and the town of Benton City eventually folded.

When the Gold Rush commenced in the late 1840s, European-Americans began arriving in great numbers. The town of "Red Bluffs" was soon established as the head of river navigation on the Sacramento River. Steamboats brought provisions up the river to "Red Bluffs," where they were transferred to wagons and mules and carried overland to the Shasta and Trinity mining camps. "Red Bluffs" soon changed its name to Red Bluff.

Tehama County was formed April 9, 1856 from parts of the three surrounding counties (Butte, Colusa, and Shasta). The name "Tehama" was most likely derived from a local Native American word meaning "high water" or "low land"; probably referring to the Sacramento River.

There are three incorporated cities within Tehama County: Red Bluff, Corning, and the City of Tehama. In 1856, the City of Red Bluff was elected as the County seat. As stated above, its location along the Sacramento River had historically enabled it to serve as a transportation hub to export Tehama's agricultural and lumber products by steamships up and down the river. Corning, the County's second largest city, was incorporated in 1907. It originally served as an agricultural hub for Tehama County, producing olives, plums, almonds, walnuts, and peaches, as well as cattle and sheep. Corning is home to the Lindsey Olive Company and Bell Carter Foods. The City of Tehama, which was established in 1846, is both Tehama's oldest and smallest incorporated city at approximately 0.8 square miles. The City was originally established as a trading hub due to its proximity to the Sacramento River.

  1. Tehama County California prepared by PMC, Tehama County General Plan Update: 2008-2028, www.tehamagp.com, accessed, August, 2015.

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