For hundreds of years, the only vessels which stopped at Hueneme were the pitch-and-plank canoes of local Chumash Indians. Hueneme, meaning half-way or resting place, was half-way between the Chumash villages at Mugu and Ventura.
The first sailing ship to reach this part of California was captained by Juan Cabrillo, who claimed the land for Spain in 1542.
Explorers were followed by Spanish missionaries and settlers - all of whom were dependent upon exchanging their animal and agricultural products for any manufactured goods they might require.
When possession of the territory passed to Mexico in 1822, an influx of new settlers served to reemphasize California's dependence upon shipping.
In the early days of Mexican California's "hide-and-tallow" trade, hides were often transferred by long-boat...directly from the ranchos to out-lying vessels. But this was a time-consuming process, and losses - attributed to heavy seas and rocky shores - supported the practice of collective shipping through such natural harbors as Los Angeles and Monterey.
More than three centuries elapsed between Cabrillo's arrival and the first major shipment of cargo from Hueneme...a shipment made possible by the exercise of "good, old Yankee ingenuity."
Docking facilities and commercial operations followed, but expansion of the harbor to its present capabilities occurred when the United States Navy took over the port during World War II.
After the war, financial arrangements with the Navy ultimately resulted in the return of the original wharf and adjacent land area to the Oxnard Harbor District. Taking advantage of the deep, natural Hueneme Chasm, located several hundred yards west of the original pier, a channel was dredged along the crevice. Further dredging created a basin where the channel began - in Hueneme Lagoon.
Today, the Port of Hueneme stands as mid-California's only deep-water port. Located between the major market areas of northern and southern California, the Port of Hueneme serves both, and - through them - the rest of the United States.
With its unique location, natural attributes, and varied facilities, Port Hueneme's potential is as limitless as the blue waters which now lead great ships to this once-sleepy lagoon.
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