The city of Buellton lies in Santa Barbara County, California, United States. It has a population of just under five thousand and is one of the communities that make up the Santa Ynez Valley.
Buellton is located on US Highway 101 on the Santa Ynez River. It is a common stop for travelers on U.S. Highway 101, being the first town north of Santa Barbara after the scenic and undeveloped stretch of about 25 miles through the Gaviota coast.
Buellton is named for R.T. Buell, and it is the home of Pea Soup Andersen’s, a major roadside stop and landmark on Route 101 since 1924.
Within a six mile radius are four picturesque villages: the Danish City of Solvang; the western town of Santa Ynez; and the quaint rural communities of Ballard and Los Olivos. The large city of Santa Barbara lies 40 miles to the southeast, Los Angeles is two hours south of Buellton on US 101, and San Francisco is about a five-hour drive north on US 101 or scenic Highway 1.
Buellton enjoys a Mediterranean coastal climate with mild, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Typical summer temperatures are in the 80s and winter temperatures hover in the 60s. Winter lows are generally in the 30s with an occasional frosty dip below freezing. Yearly precipitation averages about 13 inches between the months of November and March. Storms usually come from the northwest during the winter months.
The climate and geography of the Santa Ynez Valley make it a prime region for many agricultural operations. Horse and cattle ranches blanket the hills throughout the valley. There are also some unusual animals raised in the valley, including miniature horses, longhorn cattle, llamas, emus, ostriches, and mules. The most common crops raised include beans, squash, alfalfa, oat hay, and cauliflower for seed. In addition, almost 10,000 acres of the valley are lush vineyards. Over 30 wineries are located within a 15-mile radius of Buellton.
The History of Buellton, California
Looking back into the history of the area, the Buell Ranch was a complete town within itself as far back as 1875. By that date, R.T. Buell had established a general store, a post office, bunkhouses, blacksmith shop, and family homes.
In 1853, the reports of the discovery of gold in California convinced R.T. to try his luck in the far west. He boarded the steamer “Yankee Blade” in New York for the long trip around Cape Horn to San Francisco, arriving after of ocean travel with 54 cents in his pocket.
By 1856, R.T. was farming the bottom lands of the Feather River in Sonoma County. Farming was his first love and came naturally to a son and grandson of farmers. Along with his brother, he purchased land located in the Santa Ynez Valley: a Mexican land grant which spread from the west to mission Santa Ynez, from the middle of the Santa Ynez River on the south to Zaca Station (north on Hwy 101). The Buell ranch became a model of a fine working ranch.
The area of Buellton began to change rapidly after the turn of the century, with more settlers coming to farm and start businesses. By 1911, Danish settlers were spilling over into the Buellton area, and there was a great need for a post office. William Budd opened a post office which became an official United States Post Office in 1920.
Stores were being built on the main street of the community, and it was Anton and Juliette Andersen who bought a store from William Budd and opened a restaurant in 1924 called the Electrical Cafe. Juliette brought with her from her native France a recipe for pea soup, and this was the beginning of the now famous Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurants.
Buellton has always been strategically located as the Gateway to the Santa Ynez Valley. In the 1930’s, Highway 101 was improved and in the 1940’s Avenue of the Flags was an eight-lane road through town. In the early 1960’s, Highway 101 was moved to its current location, and Avenue of the Flags remains as the main street of Buellton.
Buellton became an incorporated city on February 1, 1992.
Drug Issues in Buellton
Buellton’s Santa Barbara County has seen a significant increase in heroin abuse in recent years, consistent with the national opioid epidemic. A local paper reported on the rising rate of overdoses, with one emergency room doctor reporting the usual rate of 30-40 overdoses doubling in recent years. Opiate dependence crosses all age groups, from people who live on the streets to professionals who walk by them on the way to work. With government programs to fight the war on drugs making treatment more accessible to all walks of life, there are many drug rehab options available to those seeking to escape the prison of drug addiction.
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