History and Map
The county of Fresno was formed in 1856 after the California Gold Rush. It was named for the abundant ash trees lining the San Joaquin River. The county was much larger than it is today as part of Tulare County, comprising its current area plus all of what became Madera County and parts of what are now San Benito, Kings, Inyo, and Mono counties.
Millerton, then on the banks of the free-flowing San Joaquin River and close to Fort Miller, became the county seat after becoming a focal point for settlers. Other early county settlements included Firebaugh’s Ferry, Scottsburg and Elkhorn Springs.
In 1872, the Central Pacific Railroad established a station near Easterby’s for its new Southern Pacific line. Soon there was a store around the station and the store grew the town of Fresno Station, later called Fresno. Many Millerton residents, drawn by the convenience of the railroad and worried about flooding, moved to the new community. Fresno became an incorporated city in 1885.
County residents voted to move the county seat from Millerton to Fresno. When the Friant Dam was completed in 1944, the site of Millerton became inundated by the waters of Millerton Lake. In extreme droughts, when the reservoir shrinks, ruins of the original county seat can still be observed.
During 1942, Pinedale, in what is now North Fresno, was the site of the Pinedale Assembly Center, an interim facility for the relocation of Fresno area Japanese Americans to internment camps. The Fresno Fairgrounds was also utilized as an assembly center.
State Historical Landmarks
#344: Arroyo de Cantua
#488: Fresno City
#584: Fort Miller
#803: Site of First Junior College in California
#873: Site of the Fresno Free Speech Fight of the Industrial Workers of the World
#916: Forestiere Underground Gardens
#934: Temporary Detention Camps for Japanese Americans -Fresno Assembly Center
#934: Temporary Detention Camps for Japanese Americans -Pinedale Assembly Center