Fillmore is located in Southern California, northwest of Los Angeles. It is located in the Santa Clara River Valley, just north of the river along Highway 126. Highway 126 connects Fillmore to Ventura and Highway 101 in the west and Santa Clarita and Interstate 5 in the east. Highway 101 and Interstate 5 are each approximately twenty miles from Fillmore. To the north of the town lie the mountains of Los Padres National Forest.
Mexican explorer Don Gaspar de Portola was sent in 1769 to explore Alta (Upper) California. On August 8 of that year, he and his contingent camped in the Santa Clara Valley near the site of present-day Fillmore. He met several groups of Native Americans who lived in the valley.
Under Mexican rule, the area became part of the Rancho Sespe Mexican land grant. A mini gold rush occurred along the river in 1842 (several years before Northern California's gold rush). In 1848 the region became part of the United States and explorer John C. Fremont mapped the valley, which was densely covered with wild mustard.
As part of the expansion of the western railroad network, the Southern Pacific Railroad built its coastal line through the Santa Clara Valley in 1886 and 1887. In 1887 an old boxcar was utilized as the town's first train station. The town was named after J.P. Fillmore, the railroad's superintendent, and a town plot map was filed with Ventura County in 1888.
When the town was founded, it consisted of five buildings: the "station," a ranch house, and three "shanties." The town became a true entity when the Sespe Land and Water Company (an organization of Los Angeles investors) bought 3000 acres from the owners of Rancho Sespe in the early 20th century. In 1914 the town was incorporated as a city.
The commercial district began on Main Street, just north of the train station (and the present City Hall), but later in the 1910s, it expanded to Central Avenue - the focus of this report.
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