Holtville (formerly, Holton) is a city in Imperial County, California. Holtville is located east of El Centro. The population was 5,939 at the 2010 census, up from 5,612 in 2000.


The city was founded by Swiss-German settlers in the 1880s, who often entered from Mexico. The construction of railroads in the 1890s, the All-American Canal in the late 1940s, U.S. Route 80 in the 1920s later converted to Interstate 8 in the 1970s and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) economic boom in the 1990s brought more people to Holtville and the Imperial Valley. The city of Holtville, which was originally called ''Holton'', was founded in 1903 by W.F. Holt, and incorporated on June 20, 1908. The name was changed to Holtville due to a request by the U. S. Postal Service because the name Holton sounded too much like Colton (in San Bernardino County), the regional headquarters of the Southern Pacific Railroad at the time. The name honors W.F. Holt, founder of the community. The city lies on the northeast bank of the Alamo River, one of two rivers that flow north from Mexico into Imperial County. On March 2, 2021, 13 people were killed just outside of town when an SUV carrying 25 people collided with a semi-truck and trailer.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , with 1.1 square miles land and 0.40% water.


This area has a large amount of sunshine year round due to its stable descending air and high pressure. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Holtville has a desert climate, abbreviated "Bwh" on climate maps.



At the 2010 census Holtville had a population of 5,939. The population density was 5,152.0 people per square mile (1,989.2/km). The racial makeup of Holtville was 3,655 (61.5%) White, 37 (0.6%) African American, 41 (0.7%) Native American, 50 (0.8%) Asian, 4 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 1,977 (33.3%) from other races, and 175 (2.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,858 persons (81.8%). The whole population lived in households, no one lived in non-institutionalized group quarters and no one was institutionalized. There were 1,799 households, 894 (49.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,033 (57.4%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 290 (16.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 106 (5.9%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 81 (4.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 6 (0.3%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 319 households (17.7%) were one person and 164 (9.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 3.30. There were 1,429 families (79.4% of households); the average family size was 3.72. The age distribution was 1,850 people (31.2%) under the age of 18, 618 people (10.4%) aged 18 to 24, 1,327 people (22.3%) aged 25 to 44, 1,416 people (23.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 728 people (12.3%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 32.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males. There were 1,937 housing units at an average density of 1,680.3 per square mile (648.8/km),of which 1,799 were occupied, 904 (50.3%) by the owners and 895 (49.7%) by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.5%. 3,017 people (50.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 2,922 people (49.2%) lived in rental housing units.


At the 2000 census there were 5,612 people in 1,564 households, including 1,340 families, in the city. The population density was 4,920.8 people per square mile (1,900.7/km). There were 1,617 housing units at an average density of 1,417.8 per square mile (547.7/km). The racial makeup of the city was 54.4% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 39.2% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. 73.8% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Of the 1,564 households 52.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.9% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.3% were non-families. 12.3% of households were one person and 5.8% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 3.5 and the average family size was 3.8. The age distribution was 35.2% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% 65 or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.4 males. The median household income was $36,318 and the median family income was $39,347. Males had a median income of $31,328 versus $26,477 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,505. About 15.7% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.2% of those under age 18 and 11.8% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

The city's major civic event is the annual Carrot Festival, held in late January or early February. It usually features a parade, a carnival and other activities over a 10-day period. Holtville was famous in the mid 20th century with having the ''Holtville'' "Carrot Festival" but was confused with the "Coachella Valley" name from the Bugs Bunny cartoon ''Bully for Bugs'' when he reads a map seeking a "Carrot Festival".


In the state legislature, Holtville is in , and . Federally, Holtville is in . History was made during the election cycle of 2006, when voters elected Lisa Bianca Padilla, who thus became the first female Hispanic candidate ever to win a seat on the city council.


A weekly newspaper, ''The Holtville Tribune'', is distributed by mail and newsstand in the Holtville area. Its circulation is about 3,750. The daily newspaper, the ''Imperial Valley Press'' in El Centro, has circulation at over 20,000.



The old U.S. Route 80 once ran along Fifth Street through the center of town. A small obelisk in Holt Park, just north of Fifth Street, gives the distances to various points to the north, east and west. U.S. Route 80 has been decommissioned and made as County Route S80 in California. The portion in and near Holtville is now part of State Route 115. Much of the east-west automobile traffic has been diverted to Interstate 8, about 2.5 miles to the south. Holtville is easily accessible through the Orchard Road interchange. The newly constructed State Route 7 connects Holtville with the factories and industrial areas of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. The city was once joined by railroad to El Centro, but this line (nicknamed the "Holton Interurban"), and another railroad line going to the north, have been abandoned. The closure of the railroad station brought economic decline to the town in the late 20th century.

Police Department

The city formerly had its own police force, but police protection is now provided by the Imperial County Sheriff's Department.

In literature

The city was featured in Milton J. Silverman's bestselling novel "Open and Shut," which chronicled the true crime story of Norma Winters, a Holtville resident who contracted for the death of her husband during the summer of 1974."Open and Shut". ''W.W. Norton & Co''., Inc. Published by Bantam Books, May 1981. .

Notable people

* Daniel Everett (born 1951), American linguist known for his study of the Amazon Basin's Pirahã people and their language, was born and raised in Holtville.

See also

* San Diego–Imperial, California * El Centro Metropolitan Area


External links

Holtville Chamber of Commerce
Comprehensive Statistical Data and more about Holtville
{{authority control Category:Cities in Imperial County, California * Category:Communities in the Lower Colorado River Valley Category:Imperial Valley Category:Incorporated cities and towns in California Category:Populated places in the Colorado Desert Category:Populated places established in 1908 Category:1908 establishments in California