5 Fun Facts You Never Knew About Fresno County
By BARRY EITEL
Fresno County is one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant areas of the United States, and its massive agricultural sector functions as the nation’s produce section. Its climate and environment are vastly different from elsewhere in California, and some of the country’s most majestic natural vistas call the area around Fresno County home. But there’s so much more to learn about this exciting (yet affordable) California destination. Here are five fun facts about California’s fifth largest county.
Fresno Means ‘Ash Tree’ in Spanish
Like Oakland has its oak trees and Los Angeles supposedly has angels, Fresno County is named after some of its most visible inhabitants – the California ash tree. Fresno is the Spanish word for “ash tree,” and the area was named after the scrubby trees, known as Fraxinus dipetala to scientists, that grow alongside the county’s rivers. The small trees, which usually don’t grow past 23 feet high, are so beloved the city of Fresno put one on its flag.
Fresno County Was Once Part of Mexico
Fresno County was first settled by Yokut tribes long before Europeans came to the U.S. – at one point, 60 tribes inhabited Fresno County. The area encompassing the county was claimed by Spain and then Mexico once the latter won independence. The first known Mexican expedition into Fresno County was completed in 1806 by Gabriel Moraga, who also named the Kings and San Joaquin rivers. Moraga was looking for new sites for missions, but Mexican development in the county was slow. What is now Fresno County joined the U.S. following the Mexican War in 1846. Fresno County was officially founded in 1856 from sections of neighboring Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties.
Fresno County Has Its Own Special FogFresno County is famed for its sunshine – each year sees an average of 300 sunny days.The less sunny days are famous, too, for a uniquely foggy condition called tule fog, named after the tule grass wetlands in the Central Valley. The thick fog usually strikes during the rainy winter months, when it makes the whole region look more dramatic and Instagram-worthy. Freezing rain can even accompany the famous fog since the sun has a hard time penetrating it.
National Parks Are Just a 90-Minute Drive Away
California’s most famous national parks – Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia – are each a day trip for the residents of Fresno County. Yosemite is home to several breathtaking rock formations like the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, while the rushing Kings River runs through Kings Canyon with its majestic waterfalls and pristine lakes. Sequoia, of course, is beloved for its famous giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman, the largest (by volume) tree in the world.
All Raisins Produced in the U.S. Grow Within 60 Miles of Fresno
If you love raisins, then make a pilgrimage to Fresno County, where all of the raisins produced in the U.S. are grown. In fact, half of the world’s raisin supply comes from the area. Legend has it that the raisin industry began by accident, when a forgetful farmer left some grapes to dry on the vine in 1875. The San Joaquin Valley’s ample sunshine and long growing season make it the perfect location for the sweet little treats. Today, roughly 355,000 tons of raisins are grown in Fresno County every year. And locals and visitors alike can even celebrate the wholesome snack in May at the five-day Selma Raisin Festival, which features a carnival, art and photography exhibits, competition displays and food booths.
Visit Fresno County, California’s year-round playground!