History and Map
After the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolà, a Spanish expedition led by Junipero Serra named the area Valle de Santa Ana. On November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano became the area’s first permanent European settlement. Among those who came with Portolá were José Manuel Nieto and José Antonio Yorba. Both these men were given land grants—Rancho Los Nietos and Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, respectively.
The Nieto heirs were granted land in 1834. The Nieto ranches were known as Rancho Los Alamitos, Rancho Las Bolsas, and Rancho Los Coyotes. Yorba heirs Bernardo Yorba and Teodosio Yorba were also granted Rancho Cañón de Santa Ana and Rancho Lomas de Santiago.
Severe drought in the 1860s devastated the prevailing industry, cattle ranching, and much land came into the possession of Richard O’Neill, Sr., James Irvine and other land barons. In 1887, silver was discovered in the Santa Ana Mountains. This growth led the California legislature to divide Los Angeles County and create Orange County as a separate political entity on March 11, 1889.
Agriculture, such as boysenberries made famous by Buena Park native Walter Knott, began to decline after World War II. The completion of Interstate 5 in 1954 helped make Orange County a bedroom community. Orange County received a further boost in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland. In 1969, Yorba Linda-born Orange County native Richard Nixon became the 37th President of the United States.
State Historical Landmarks
#112: North Gate of City of Anaheim
#189: Dana Point
#198: Old Landing
#199: The Serrano Adobe
#200: Mission San Juan Capistrano
#201: Pioneer House of the Mother Colony
#203: Red Hill
#204: Old Santa Ana
#205: Modjeska’s Home
#217: Black Star Canyon Indian Village Site
#218: Barton Mound
#219: Anaheim Landing
#225: Flores Peak
#226: Don Bernardo Yorba Ranchhouse Site
#227: Diego Sepulveda Adobe
#729: Old Maizeland School (Rivera School)
#775: Site of First Water-to-Air Flight
#794: McFadden Wharf
#837: Orange County’s Original Courthouse
#959: Balboa Pavilion
#1004: Old Town Irvine
#1015: Richard Nixon Birthplace
#1050: Crystal Cove Historic District