Piru – “This word is derived from the Indian term for a reed that grew along the creek banks, and was used in basket-making.”Piru is a quit little community, a favorite location for all of the movie companies. One of the largest citrus packing houses is located here. Piru Lake, approved controlled by the United Water Conservation District, is a recreational area for water skiing, fishing, and camping.
“Piru was once pronounced much like ‘peet hoo’ according to the old timers; and it gradually became ‘pee roo’, spelled Piru. According to Joe Paul after a time it became ‘pie roo’, except for the old timers and natives who knew better.
Piru, a part of the 14,ooo acres of the Piru Fruit Rancho, is situated near the base of the mountains where the Piru Creek and the Santa Clara River meet. It is in the upper end of the Santa Clara Valley, in the eastern section of Ventura County.
The property, which was patented to the Temescal Land Grant, was purchased in 1887 from the Del Valle brothers by David C. Cook of Elgin, Illinois, the proprietor of the greatest publishing house in the United States. This was quickly followed by the founding of the town of Piru City, as it was once called, owned and controlled by Mr. Cook.
Soon Piru became known as a flourishing horticulture center. This was due to Mr. Cook’s influence since he had come here not only for his health but to establish a community that would duplicate in its groves and orchards of fruits trees, those of the Holy Land in Biblical times. Piru City was often referred to as the Second Garden of Eden.
When David C. Cook bought the Piru Fruit Rancho in 1887, he acquired with the land a valuable water right, allowing him to appropriate the waters of the Piru Creek for irrigation purposes. The water system, consisting of 30 miles of pipe, flumes and canals, had been planned in order to properly irrigate the mammoth orchards extending from Piru City westward, a distance of one and a half miles, and up the Piru Canyon, a distance of six miles.
Besides being prominent as a horticulture center, Piru City enjoyed prosperity due to the immense freight business caused by the large orders of the Piru Fruit Rancho as well as by the numerous oil wells in the vicinity and on the Rancho.
In the winter of 1887-88, the large Methodist Church was erected and on June 1888, the post office was opened with four daily mails. The Piru Rancho Gold Mining Company, which was that portion of the Piru Rancho located in Los Angeles County and was included in the old Temescal Land Grant, was still being worked in 1899 having been extensively mined from 1810-1840 before the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848.
Daivd C. Cook, founder of Piru, developed his Second Garden of Eden for 15 years before regaining his health and returning to Elgin, Illinois to resume his position as head of the publishing house. Since Mr. Cook was a strict prohibitionist he was disappointed with many of his employees who were supposed to abstain from swearing and liquor.