Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Port of Hueneme Birthday

By Karen Robes Meeks

This year, the Port of Hueneme celebrates 80 years as “the port that farmers built.”

The central California port started many years earlier with farmers determined to create a harbor for shipping their agricultural products by sea.

Richard Bard, known as the "Father of the Port of Hueneme," continued his father’s efforts of turning the Oxnard-based land into a deep-water commercial port.

When the PWA rejected their loan proposal, Bard and local farmers decided to build Port Hueneme themselves. The community created the Oxnard Harbor District on April 29, 1937. The district’s commissioners proposed a $1.75 million bond to fund the building of the port, which was done without federal funding. State lawmakers would help kick-start port construction that year.

Ironically, federal funding would come in the 1940s when the US government temporarily turned the port into a naval base. More than $6 million was spent on 5,205 lineal feet of wharfage, 550,000 yards of dredging, 1,200,000 square feet of building, and 36 miles of railroad.

By the time the war ended, Hueneme was moving 150,000 tons of cargo monthly.

Business would boom with the arrival of autos to the port in the 1970s.

Today, Hueneme is a niche market port for cars, fresh produce, fish, bulk liquids and general cargo and moves about $8 billion in goods. The port also generates $1.1 billion in economic activity and 10,226 trade-related jobs.