Location: Ventura County, California
Named for a prominent early California family founded by José Franciso Ortega (1734-98) who discovered San Franciso Bay and founded the presidio there, while serving as an officer on the "Sacred Expedition" of Gaspar de Portold (1723-86). José also helped found the Santa Barbara Mission and was subsequently granted the 26,529 acre Rancho Nuestra Señora del Refugio. Ortega later married into the Bandini, Carrillo, Castro, de la Guerra, and Vallejo families. Ramón Ortega, a descendent, later acquired Rancho Potrero Seco, northwest of Ojai, within which this peak is located. According to Charles F. Outland, Ramón was a noted mountain man who specialized in capturing bears with his riata (ca. 1860's).
Edwin M. Sheridan, in his historical notes on Ventura County (ca. 1920), added that "the people of the county are generally well acquainted with the fact that there is an Ortega Ranch at Ortega Hill in the Matilija." The entire area northwest of Ojai was once known as the the Matilija-named for a nearby Chumash village, first cited as "Matilja" in the records of San Buenaventura Mission (1827). The meaning of this name is unknown.
Today, the name is most familiar for the spectacular Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) which grows profusely in this area. This was first collected by botanist Thomas Coulter in 1831 and co-named for his friend, astronomer Romney Robinson.
Sespe Creek was also once known as Arroyo Matilija. Sespe is derived from another Chumash Indian village originally spelled "Cepsey", (Father José Senan wrote of it as "Secpey"), and our present spelling of it dates from 1824.
Name first appears on USGS Southern California Sheet #3 (1910).
Peak was added to the HPS Peak List in 1958.