travelgrove Travel Guides

Fresno History, California

Fresno History – The Foundation of Fresno County

Situated in Central California, Fresno is the state’s fifth largest city and an important agricultural centre. Due to its proximity to some very popular natural attractions (Sierra National Forrest, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park), Fresno is considered a major tourist gateway. If you happen to be on your way towards one of the above mentioned destinations, it's worth spending a few hours in downtown Fresno: the city has much to say about the history of California and its founding fathers.

With more than half a million inhabitants, Fresno represents the typical Californian city, founded by miners in the crazy times of the Gold Rush. In 1856, the County of Fresno was formed and it encompassed large areas of San Joaquin Valley. The United States annexed California in 1847 as a consequence of the Mexican-American War, but many Californian towns have kept Spanish their names. So did, for example, Sacramento, Los Angeles or San Francisco; as for "fresno", it is the Spanish equivalent for “ash tree”. Small frontier towns like Millerton and Scottsburg were built by gold seekers along the San Joaquin River, but they were progressively destroyed by floods.

Fresno History – How Fresno was Born

Fresno history begins with the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad: in 1862, a station named Fresno was established on the grounds of the present-day city. Several stores and cabins soon followed the appearance of the station and, by 1885, Fresno was already incorporated as a city. The first years were difficult: two devastating fires had burned entire blocks and the dry soil of Joaquin Valley made farming very difficult. Fresno’s economy took a spectacular turn with the construction of the first irrigation canals: soon, people began to cultivate wheat, raisins, oranges and figs.

Fresno History – Fresno during 20th Century

On the peak of the new century, Fresno population had surpassed 12000. As most Californian cities, Fresno had (and continues to have) a very heterogeneous population, with the main ethnic groups represented by Italians, Germans, Armenians and Chinese. The economy continued to grow as economic activities became more diversified, now including the cultivation of cotton, the production of sweet wines and the construction of huge manufactories.

Another notable event in Fresno’s history was the opening of the Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill in 1937, which was using very innovative waste management techniques for those times. Landfill, together with other monuments and buildings, are today listed by the National register of Historic Places of the US and represent an important part of Fresno’s rich patrimony.

Ask our travel experts a question about Fresno

Things about Fresno you may be interested in


Read our members' reviews about Fresno

No reviews have been added yet for this category. Be the first to add a new one.

Read our members' travel tips about Fresno

  • JohanFresno Art Museum
    travel tip by Johan posted more then 30 days ago
    A small, but that more precious museum right on First Street. The Fresno Art Museum gives you more than you could expect with its friendly customer approach and their small but interesting collections. You could go to visit the place on...
view all


Members Who Have Been to Fresno

the best travel deals provided by TravelZoo...
  •$482Alaska Airlines flightAlaska Airlines
    Phoenix, AZ (PHX)  Fresno, CA (FAT)
    03/21/2024 07:20 am
    Fresno, CA (FAT)  Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
    03/26/2024 04:29 pm
  •$509Alaska Airlines flightAlaska Airlines
    Portland, OR (PDX)  Fresno, CA (FAT)
    03/14/2024 06:25 pm
    Fresno, CA (FAT)  Portland, OR (PDX)
    03/23/2024 02:30 pm
  •$602Alaska Airlines flightAlaska Airlines
    Denver, CO (DEN)  Fresno, CA (FAT)
    04/22/2024 07:00 am
    Fresno, CA (FAT)  Denver, CO (DEN)
    05/05/2024 11:37 am

Fresno City Ratings

  • Ratingunrated
    City Rankunrated
  • History & Culture: not rated
  • Night Life & Entertainment: not rated
  • Family & Fun: not rated
  • Outdoors Activities: not rated
  • Food: not rated
  • Sightseeing: not rated
  • Shopping: not rated
  • Public Transportation: not rated
  • Must visit this place: not rated
   Welcome to Travelgrove  register tell a friend bookmark it