HISTORY and MAP
An 1805 expedition probably led by Spanish Army Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga recorded discovering the river, which they named El Rio de los Santos Reyes (River of the Holy Kings) after the Three Wise Men of the Bible. At the time of the United States conquest in 1848, the new government changed the name to Kings River after which the county was named.
Kings County was formed in 1893 from the western part of Tulare County. In 1909, by an act of the state legislature, 208 square miles of Fresno County territory was added to the northwest portion of Kings County.
Settlers reclaimed Tulare Lake and its wetlands for agricultural development. In surface area, it was formerly the largest body of freshwater west of the Great Lakes, and supported a large population of migratory birds as well as local birds and wildlife.
In 1928, oil was discovered in the Kettleman Hills located in the southwestern part of Kings County. The Kettleman North Dome Oil Field became one of the most productive oil fields in the United States.