Categorized | Northern California

Loleta, California

Loleta Creamery

The abandoned creamery building in Loleta

Loleta is a small town in Northern California.  Its name, Lo Le Tah, came from three Wiyot Indian words meaning “a pleasant place at the end of the water.” Lolita Online

We ended up in the tiny town of Loleta over Mother’s Day weekend because my mother likes cheese.  We had been in a few miles away in Ferndale and my mom saw a flier for the Loleta Cheese Factory and decided we should go.  So we did.

Lolita Tavern

Lolita’s Gilded Rose Tavern

Loleta is nestled off the 101 about 15 miles south of Eureka.  Originally populated by the Wiyot Indians, the original European settlers arrived in the 1850’s and named the town “Swauger” and later, “Swauger’s Station”.  The settlers originally raised potatoes, but by the 1870’s, the soil was depleting and the market for potatoes was decreasing, so they turned to dairy ranching.

Downtown Loleta

Downtown Loleta sprung up right next to the railroad tracks

In 1883, the railroad had reached Loleta and by 1914, you could ride the rails from Loleta to San Francisco. In response to the success of the local dairy industry the Humboldt Creamery plant (originally Diamond Springs Creamery, eventually a co-operative of the Golden State Creamery) opened in 1893. A few years later in 1898, the Post Office opened. At that point, the town’s name was changed from Swauger’s Station to “Loleta”.

A barn and the fields surrounding Loleta

Dairy ranching continues to be an important part of Loleta’s economy.

Although the creamery closed and sits abandoned, dairy ranching continues in Loleta.  Unlike in generations past, nowadays most of 800 or so folks who live here work outside of town in other industries.

The Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria are headquartered in Loleta and run the Bear River Casino Hotel, Bear River Pump &  Play Gas Station, Tish Non Village and Basayo Village.

Loleta was easy to find and within minutes of leaving Ferndale we were in town and at the doors of the Loleta Cheese Company located directly across the street from the old creamery.

Loleta Cheese Company

The Loleta Cheese Company picnic and flower gardens.

The Cheese Company building is unassuming from the outside, but bright and busy Inside. Display windows look over the big tubs that are used for processing cheese. During our visit, they were making jalopeno cheese, a process that takes about 6 hours.  You can purchase cheese at their dairy counter and get gifts and cheese-oriented  and a little gift shop.  Outside the doors of the gift shop is a charming flower garden with picnic areas, grass, and flowers.  The owners were talkative and pleasant. With customers coming in and out, the Loleta Cheese Company was hands down the busiest spot in town.

Joshua and my mother bought some cheese and then we took a little walk around town.  The railroad tracks pass alongside the creamery building and downtown, which is aboutt a block in length.  There was a small grocery store, a real estate office, a tavern, and the post office and the original bank with tall white columns at the entrance and imposing front facade.. The rest of the storefronts did not seem to be open for business.

Loleta Church

A country church a block from downtown Loleta

In spite of its quiet and unassuming appearance, we saw a flier for a Loleta Chamber of Commerce business mixer and the local online community calendar shows a community that loves to play together and fundraise together.

We took some pictures and then headed to the car. Within a few minutes we were on the highway again, heading north to Eureka.


4 Responses to “Loleta, California”

  1. Kevin says:

    As someone who grew up there, I wish to commend you on how well you captured the essencial feeling of Loleta in your beautiful pictures of it. Many memories were roused by your well-rounded but concise write-up of it’s history and current state.

    • Daphne says:

      Oh my gosh – your comments mean the world to me. I loved Loleta. Actually I love that whole area. It was a beautiful trip. Thank you so much.

  2. Ted Ryan says:

    I attended a one-room school (old Fire House) around 1950. Anyone remember Wendy Cristiansen?


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