MONTEREY COUNTY
Chualar


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Population:  850  Elevation: 108'   County: Monterey


Chualar, California is an unincorporated community
located ten miles south of Salinas in Monterey County. Located off Highway 101, Chualar is nestled between two mountain ranges, Gabilan and Santa Lucia, and bordered by Chualar Canyon to the East. This rural community consists mainly of an Hispanic population working in agricultural-related occupations. Located in the Salinas Valley farm belt, nearby regions include Carmel Valley, Cienega Valley, Bradley, Gonzales, Greenfield, Prunedale, Del Rey Oaks and Monterey.

 

A drive through current day Chualar is a trip through time. While some things have changed, many aspects of the community remain as they did over 100 years ago. The town is known for its fields and farms that yield vegetable crops that include Head and Romaine lettuce shipped to cities throughout California and the nation from what's sometimes referred to as the "Salad Bowl." Tractors and trucks, irrigation supplies and the tools of the farm trade are visible along the road on Highway 101 that passes through town.

 

Not currently a tourism destination featuring luxury hotels and restaurants, Chualar is significant and representative of the many regions of California that commercially produce food crops. Valley of the World tribute to Salinas Valley agriculture at the National Steinbeck Center is a $5.2 million agriculture museum featuring information about the Salinas Valley farm region that includes Chualar.

 

Chualar is a term from an American Indian language meaning "pigweed". This small, unincorporated community is home to Chualar Union Elementary School District and Chualar School, which was established in the 1800s.

Chualar was founded on the ranch of David Jacks, an Irish émigré and shrewd and exploitive land investor. This controversial figure was involved in the transfer of rancho holdings to Americans during the 1860s and was considered the wealthiest individual in the county by 1880.

 

The landowner held a vast expanse of the Central Coast’s richest properties that included the present day cities of Pacific Grove, Del Rey Oaks, Seaside, the Del Monte Forest, Fort Ord, 17 Mile Drive and Pebble Beach. Jack owned many of the historic Spanish and Mexican adobes of Monterey as well as properties extending far into the inland valleys behind the Monterey coast. The highest point of the Monterey peninsula stood on his land known as Jack's Peak that overlooks the Monterey Peninsula and is located about two miles from scenic Highway 68.

 

Chualar was one of Jack’s many holdings. It became a town and virtually sprang to life in one short year from 1874 to 1875. In 1875, Chualar City boasted 51 persons, a hotel, stores, restaurants, shoe shop, blacksmith and freight depot. Indicative of Jack’s style of doing business, he previously borrowed against his ranchos, Chualar and Zanjones in 1874 to help create the Monterey and Salinas Valley Railroad, a narrow gauge line built between the two towns.

The investor and entrepreneur was a partner with Spanish and Portuguese dairymen who dominated North Californian dairy farming. They produced cheese from surplus milk and marketed it as Jacks Cheese or Monterey Jack. Jack also instigated an idea of leasing land on shares, a scheme that helped his farm tenants survive through periods of drought and famine.

 

Current land issues—An interesting segment from a County of Monterey document discusses land usage in this region: In the segment of River Road from Highway 68 to one mile north of Chualar Road, uses shall be limited to no more than five small-scale artisan wineries and/or small scale tasting rooms uses due to the physical constraints and relatively high scenic and biological sensitivity along this segment. Proposed uses (winery and winery-related structures) shall be precluded in the segment of River Road one miles north of Chualar Road to Limekiln Road, due to the high visual sensitivity, proximity of Salinas River, and importance of wildlife mobility in this area. -Monterey County Environmental Impact Report, March 2002

 

Monterey County Agriculture is estimated at just under $3 billion compared $2 billion for tourism.

Mail Service: Chualar: 25561 Jackson St.