Tehama is a city in Tehama County, California, United States. The population was 418 at the 2010 census, down from 432 at the 2000 census.
"Tehama" is believed to be an Indian word, but authorities disagree on the meaning, which has variously been reported as "high water", "low land", "salmon", "mother nature" or "shallow" — any of which would be an accurate description of a location where the river is normally shallow enough to ford, where fishermen are a common sight during the salmon run, and winter floods are a regular occurrence. A Nomlaki village once stood on the site of modern-day Tehama on the western bank of the Sacramento River.
Tehama (pronounced Tuh-HAY-muh) was founded by Robert Hasty Thomes, who arrived in the area that is now Tehama County in the company of Albert G. Toomes, William Chard, and Job Francis Dye. The four men travelled northward from San Francisco, and were each given land grants from the government of Mexico in 1844, with Thomes' portion being Rancho Saucos.
Tehama was one of the earliest California settlements north of Sacramento. Thomes mapped out the city in 1850, with First through Fifth Streets running north–south, and B through I Streets running east–west. First Street no longer exists; it was eroded away by the river. It was the last stop for the riverboats for a few years, and the town thrived on the riverboat traffic.