Historically, the City of Lompoc began as a small agricultural community including the prominent production of flower seeds. As time progressed, technology and space exploration aided the City of Lompoc in becoming economically successful. Over the past few decades, Lompoc’s economy has reached a place where it is now known for tourism, its wine industry, space technology, agriculture, recreation, arts and flowers.
Lompoc was first home to the Native Chumash who occupied the area for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers in 1787. The origin of Lompoc’s name derives from the Chumash, with various meanings such as lakes and lagoons. In 1787, Mission de la Purisima Concepcion de Maria Santisima was founded and built at the end of what is now South G Street. While the original mission was destroyed in an earthquake in 1812, it was rebuilt by the Native People at a new location, which now serves Lompoc as a State Historic Park.
In August 1874, The Lompoc Land Company was formed to establish a temperance colony. On August 13, 1888, the City of Lompoc was incorporated as a California General Law City. Over the course of the next few years following the incorporation of the City, multiple wharves were constructed along the coast to serve as shipping points for supplies as well as a major key for outgoing agricultural products. Shortly after the construction of the wharves, the coastal railroad was completed that ran through Lompoc from the Bay area to Los Angeles in 1901. This industrial accomplishment paved the way for major growth in the city.
In 1896, industries such as the flower seed industry flourished and brought fame to Lompoc. Due to the rich soil, cool ocean breezes for air pollination, and long summers, flowers grew in abundance. Lompoc had over 500 varieties of flowers growing there in the late 1800s. Other industries that prospered during this time were agriculture, and mining of diatomaceous earth.
In 1941, Camp Cooke was established in the Lompoc Valley as an Army training base, which proved to be very successful. In 1958, it became known as what it is today, Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). VAFB paved the way for space technology to be a major component of the City of Lompoc’s economy. By 1944, the population of Lompoc grew to over 5,000 residents. Shortly after the takeover of Camp Cooke by VAFB, Lompoc’s population grew to over 20,000 residents. The base was the first missile base in the U.S. Air Force, and was also home to the Space Shuttle program in the 1980s. While there were a few rocky points along the way, such as the Challenger explosion in 1986, VAFB has become a premier launch facility in California, and remains one of the City of Lompoc’s largest employers and a catalyst of growth in the area. By 1988, Lompoc’s population grew to over 32,000 people.
In 2011, the incorporation of Space X to Vandenberg Air Force Base included a new launch pad and 124,000 square foot assembly building that was built in 2013, and signaled the growth of commercial space launches. The population of the Lompoc Valley has now grown to just over 50,000 residents.