The Amusing History of Fresno, CA
The Beginnings of Fresno, CA
The amusing history of Fresno, CA goes back to long before European settlers came to the area. The original inhabitants of the city were called the Yokuts. The Yokuts traded with many Native American tribes in California. They often traded plant and animal products.
The official town of Fresno was founded in 1872 and was named for the plentiful ash trees that grow along the San Joaquin River. The city was originally founded as a railway station for the Central Pacific Railroad.
The California Gold Rush and Agriculture
When the gold rush began in California, the population of Fresno began to rapidly increase. With this influx of population, agriculture became a mainstay for the inhabitants. By 1876 the first irrigation system was introduced to the city. In fact, over the coming forty years, the town became the leading supplier of agriculture for the country. Major crops included almonds, grapes, cotton, nectarines and peaches.
Raisins and Figs
Dry white wine was produced from the area's vineyards, but these wines proved less than satisfactory. The grapes used for the wines were then cultivated for raisins. Raisins were naturally produced from the sunlight, which is continuous in the valley. In the late 1800’s an unusually large yield of a million pounds of raisins was harvested. This brought the price of raisins down to two cents per pound. In response to this, in the year 1898, the Raisin Growers Association formed to protect the raisin industry. In the year 1886, Frank Roeding and his son began to cultivate figs in the town. They experimented with cross pollination of fig trees, and in turn created another industry for the town to thrive on.
Wild West Country
Fresno had the typical feel of an old western town. It had a saloons and a sheriff’s office. The wild west town burned down several times and was flooded. The day to day life in the town was much like an amusing western played out on television. After the last flood, residents of the town realized the city needed a more structured government. This was when Fresno was incorporated, in 1885.
The Fresno, CA Municipal Sanitary Landfill was the first contemporary landfill in the country. This landfill incorporated numerous significant modernizations for waste disposal. These modernizations included compacting, trenching, and covering trash daily with dirt. The landfill opened in 1937 and closed in 1987. Fast forward to today, the landfill has the rare merit of being a Superfund Site as well as a National Historic Landmark.
Around the time of World War II, the town had numerous ethnic neighborhoods. German Town, Little Italy, Little America, and China Town were prevalent in the city. In the neighborhood now known as North Fresno, there was an assembly center for the relocation of Japanese Americans. The town has had an ethnic mixture of people starting with Chinese railroad workers and Scandinavian farmers. Later these groups were joined by Germans from Russia, Armenians and Japanese. By the early 20th century, Fresno gained a large Hispanic population. Today there are now more than seventy different ethnic groups in the city.
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