While other communities were being rapidly established at the center of Imperial Valley, Holton was started in August 1903 by W.F. Holt along the eastern bank of the Alamo River. The location was to be adjacent to a 40-foot drop in the river, where a hydroelectric power station could be built. Within two months, development of Holton was well underway; the power station was under construction and a townsite was platted featuring a central business district surrounding a plaza. In February 1904, the post office opened, and the name was changed to 'Holtville' to avoid potential confusion with Colton in San Bernardino County.

While the town was coming into existance, Holt was also at work on another project: the Holton Interurban Line. The goal of this new rail line was to give Holton a direct railroad connection to the Southern Pacific network. The ten mile line was laid in 1904, and regular service to the SP flag station at Cabarker (El Centro) began on September 15 of that year.

Holtville steadily grew into a fine town with substantial brick buildings. The first, the Alamo Hotel, was completed late in 1904. That year Holtville's first school was also established. In 1905, it gained a Chamber of Commerce, the power station was completed, and the Holtville Tribune went into publication. Growth slowed during the massive floods of 1905-07, but Holtville sprang back soon after, gaining a creamery and the valley's first library. On July 1, 1908, the City of Holtville was officially incorporated. Before long, improvements to the city led to its being regarded as the valley's prettiest, as streets were lined with large palms and cottonwoods to provide shade from the desert's relentless sun. Another relief was found after artesian wells were discovered in 1910, and a large natatorium was built. Transportation was soon improved and expanded and Holtville flourished as shipping became even easier. The Dixie Overland Highway (later Highway 80) was routed through in 1914, and in 1917 a rail line traversing the east side of the valley connected Holtville to Calipatria.

In the years following, Holtville continued to thrive as a farming town, though it never reached the size of the cities in the central part of the valley. A fire in the late 1940s destroyed a section of its business district, but until it was bypassed by Interstate 8 in 1969 Holtville maintained its status as the eastern gateway of Imperial Valley. As truck shipping became more efficient, the rail line to Calipatria was abandoned in 1962. Today, Holtville has settled at a population of just 6000. A few older buildings remain, still surrounding the original central plaza as envisioned by W.F. Holt over 115 years ago. Early every year, the city's Carrot Festival pays tribute to its agricultural past.

See Also
Pine Union SchoolVerde School