Visalia, California – The Gateways to the Sequoias | Fun Facts and History
Visalia CA is the county seat of Tulare County, California which is the current economic center of the most productive single agricultural area in the region, the Sequoia Valley. It is the closest city to the tallest mountain range in the contiguous U.S., the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s also the closest major city to the Sequoia National Park, thus where it got its nickname.
How Visalia Came To Be
Though it’s still unknown when the first European settlers came to the area, it was the Yokuts and Mono Native American tribes that lived here hundreds of years ago. The first written record about the area was penned by Pedro Fages in 1722.
When California became an official state in 1850 there was no Tulare County yet. Instead, the land was then part of Mariposa County. The region was called Four Creeks by some pioneers who lived in the area in 1852. It was surrounded by many watershed creeks and rivers that flowed from the Sierra Nevada Mountains which gave birth to the magnificent oak forest. A group of settlers petitioned for a new county and on July 10 of that same year, Tulare County came to be.
Nathaniel Vise, one of the first inhabitants of the fort built by the settlers and responsible for inspecting the new settlement, wrote in his report in November 1852 that, “The town contains from 60–80 inhabitants, 30 of whom are children of school age. The town is located upon one of the subdivisions of the Kaweah River and is destined to be the county seat of Tulare.”
By 1853, Visalia did become the seat of the county and it hadn’t changed since then. The official name is connected to Vise’s ancestral home which in Visalia, Kentucky.
The growth in the number of settlers in the town was thanks to the gold rush along the Kern River. Transient miners rushed to Kern River through Visalia but when the gold mining failed, many of the miners settled in Visalia and raised their own families. In 1859, John Butterfield added the town in his Overland Stage route from St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco. This route was commemorated with a plague which is placed at 116 East Main Street.
The year 1860 marked another memorable event for the Visalians, the arrival of the telegraph. The people had immediate access to information about the events happening in the East Coast, which escalated into the American Civil War. Torn whether to side with the North or the South, the locals of the town had a mini Civil War on the Main Street. The mini civil war was concluded to the satisfaction of the participants and life went to normal for everyone, but the federal government wasn’t convinced so the Visalian’s pro-South Equal Rights Expositor newspaper was banned. The government then established a military garrison, the Camp Babbitt, to further strengthen its power. It was built in 1862 to effectively stop Southern supporters while maintaining law and order.
The city was first incorporated during the Civil War, followed by the second incorporation in 1874 which made it a city with a common council and an ex-officio Mayor and President.
Sequoia National Park in Visalia, California
It is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada which was established on September 25, 1890. One of the park’s most price natural resources is Mount Whitney, standing at 14,505 feet above sea level. Together with Kings Canyon National Park, the two were designated in 1972 as UNESCO Sequoia-Kings Canyon Biosphere Reserve. For more information, click here.
Visilians are proud of their history and the many natural resources surrounding the community. This is also true for the commodities and facilities the people enjoy using on a daily basis. One strong industry in the area is HVAC and air conditioning in Visalia.
If you find this page interesting, check out the city facts page about Lemoore.