Selma, California: “Raisin Capital of the World”
Selma is a city in Fresno County, California with a population of 23,219 based on the 2010 census. The city is located 16 miles southeast of Fresno, at an elevation of 308 feet.
Selma Ca History and Culture
Selma’s humble beginnings were thanks to the Southern Pacific Railroad development which began in the 1870s as a branch line of the Central Pacific Railroad. The railroad construction through the Central Valley gave rise to a string of small towns between Sacramento and Bakersfield, and Selma was of the towns that were established.
Four years later after the first post office opened in this rural community in 1880, farmers’ J.D. Whitson, George Otis, Monroe Snyder, and Egbert H. Tucker formed a partnership and developed a town along the railroad. They did so by auctioning lots to interested settlers and just three years later, the city was formally incorporated.
Despite the persistent local legend that it was named after Selma Gruenberg Lewis by Governor Leland Stanford, subsequent investigation indicates instead that the town was in fact named for Selma Michelsen. She was the wife of a railroad employee who had submitted her name to be included in the list of candidates for the available lots.
Agriculture and Economy of Selma CA
Wheat was originally the economic engine for the locals. But it was replaced by orchards and vineyards after local farmers discovered that peaches, grapes, and plums grow well in sandy soil while being irrigated with snow-melt water imported through canals from the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.
Although raisins (sweet grapes preserved by sun-drying) soon became the major crop, Selma called itself the “Home of the Peach” and was also known as “A Peach of a City.” Through the 1960s, a major seasonal employer was the local peach cannery, where Libby’s brand fruit was packed. Peaches and other tree fruit are still grown in abundance.
Even with the decline of family farming and the low prices for raisins and table grapes in the last decades of the twentieth century, peaches and other tree fruit are still grown in abundance.
HVAC industry is also a major commodity in the area. Air conditioning in Selma and home AC service are significant in the daily lives of every family, especially during hot summers.
Places to Visit in Selma
- Berry Park Skate Park – “It’s a 7,600 square foot mini Skate Plaza that sits alongside a 10ft Amoeba Bowl. The park has plenty of ledges and a nice stair set at the top of the plaza. The landscape is very clean and simple and even has flowers integrated into the stair set.” – californiaskateparks.com
- Brentlinger Park – It is known for its Tennis Courts that have been painted in order to allow for Pickleball to also be played on the courts, in addition to Tennis. Pickleball is a sport that is becoming very popular. It requires a paddle and wiffle style ball and is played in a smaller court.
- Pioneer Village – It’s located at 1880 Art Gonzales Parkway. Pioneer Village is composed of rental properties ideal for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to Birthday Parties, Family Reunions, Special Events and a variety of other potential events. The annual Easter Egg Hunt and Mariachi Festival are a few of the annual events held here.