California History

Santa Barbara History Japanese Attack

Santa Barbara, Calif.--Japanese Attack

A public beach adjacent to Bacara Beach Resort & Spa seems so serene--and throughout most of its history it has been.

However, there was a moment in recent history when that very beach, once home to an oil field during the early to mid-20th century, has seen action like no other city in the nation has known.  It is THE ONLY PLACE in the U.S. since the War of 1812 to be attacked by an enemy!

Known as Ellwood Oil Field during 1942 when the world was at war, the Richfield Oil Field Facility was attacked by shell-fire from a Japanese submarine on Feb. 23, 1942.  Read a newspaper account from that event.

Hitting and damaging a pumphouse and catwalk at one oil well, no major destruction occurred other than to put the United States on alert.

Captain Nishino Kozo reportedly made a radio call from Submarine I-17 to Tokyo that they left Santa Barbara in flames.

The sign, Goleta Historical Marker 3, on the Santa Barbara beach states: On February 23, 1942, at 7:00 PM during one of President Roosevelt's Fireside Talks, the Japanese Submarine 1-17 Shelled the Richfield Oil Field Facility at this Site with 25 5-inch Rounds. Not since the War of 1812 Had the U.S. Mainland Been Attacked by a Foreign Power. 

Nearby Santa Barbara Airport was built and living quarters established for the Marine Corps on the site of what is now University of California, Santa Barbara campus.

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