I-5 Gas and Food Stop
"Although Coalinga is a Familiar Town Name..."
I had never consider the origin of the name. Wikipedia reports that the origin of the name Coalinga is of some dispute. The most likely explanation comes with it's founding as a coal station. Prior to the use of diesel locomotives, California had a sequence of coaling stations to service the railroads running through the central valley. Thus, the city was designated as "Coal Station A", which was abbreviated to Coaling A, and then subsequently to Coalinga. The retention of the name as that of the city is somewhat mysterious though since Coalinga (pronounced coa-ling-ga, the first 'g' soft, the second hard), which could pass as Nahuatl for "place of snakes", but is more likely related to the coal industry that started the city in the first place.
"The Central Valley Town of some 12,000 is Famed..."
for it's 1983 6.4 magnitude earthquake. Nobody was killed, but 47 were injured, and some 800 homes and other buildings were destroyed. $31 million damage came to an area not previously known for earthquakes.
The town is also know for its new mental health hospital--California's first in 50 years. 1,500 beds are devoted to the treatment of sexual offenders. But, the hospital has been delayed in opening due to a difficulty in filling out the ranks of its staff, due probably to the remote location and climate of the Coalinga. The town also has recently built the 5,000 inmate Pleasant Valley State Prison, which has a large drug rehabilitation program.
"Most tourists will see only Coalinga's I-5"
truckstop. There's a large interchange that has gas stations, restaurants, and motels for the I-5 travelers. The distance between Coalinga and the gas stops either north or south on I-5 is perhaps 25 miles or more.