We have relied on information written by the late Ralph L. Milliken and excerpts from old articles from the Los Banos Enterprise to complete the history as it appears here. For more complete historical data the City of Los Banos refers our readers to the Milliken Museum which was renamed from Los Banos Historical Museum in honor of the long time curator. The Museum may reached by calling (209) 826-5055.
The gallant Gabriel Moraga, with his troop of Spanish Calvary from the Presidio of San Francisco came riding through the Pacheco Pass under orders from the Spanish Governor of California to explore the San Joaquin Valley in 1805. This jaunty leader and his party on reaching the floor of the valley cantered right across the area where the City of Los Banos now stands.
These explorers were astonished to note the great wealth of natural life everywhere. Gazing in every direction these Spaniards saw ducks, geese, cranes, herons, pelicans, curlew, antelope, deer, elk and grizzly bears all living their lives undisturbed. Prior to their visit only the local Indians had ventured into the area.
The next Spanish explorer to leave his name stamped indelibly on the region was Padre Felipe Arroyo de la Cuesta. He was a Franciscan monk who was stationed at Mission San Juan Bautista from 1808 to 1833. On his missionary visits to the Indians he discovered pools of water in the rocks at the summit of the mountains in a little creek bed that flowed down into the San Joaquin Valley. At these baths or pools he camped overnight with his band of friendly Indians from the Mission. Reports of these baths led to the local ranchers naming the creek "El Arroyo de Los Banos del Padre Arroyo." In time that lengthy moniker was reduced to "Los Banos Crick."
In 1873 a pioneer to the area named Gus Kreyenhagen ran a trading post near Los Banos Creek. The Post Office Department decided to establish a Post Office at the trading post and named it after the creek, hence the name "Los Banos."
Henry Miller arrived in San Francisco in 1850 with $6.00 in his pocket. After working as a butcher he became aware of the need for a better grade of cattle than that which was available at that time in California.
He came to the San Joaquin Valley and began his land acquisitions and cattle empire. He acquired land on both sides of the San Joaquin River ultimately owning that land for a distance of 120 miles. In 1871 he formed the San Joaquin and Kings River Canal and Irrigation Company. He is credited with being the first to introduce the crops of cotton, rice and alfalfa to the valley.
Miller made a great effort to get the railroad to extend through the West Side and that eventually decided the present day location of Los Banos. Agriculture remains the number one industry in and around Los Banos and this is due mainly to the early success of Henry Miller.