As the oldest city between Los Angeles and Stockton, Visalia has a rich heritage and played an important role in early California history. From its origin as a frontier fort to its present position as an agricultural and business hub, Visalia serves as a model for communities throughout the state. From humble beginnings, the city has grown to a culturally diverse regional center, praised for the quality of life enjoyed by its more than 120,958 residents.

Visalia is the oldest town between San Francisco and Los Angeles and indeed is the Crown Jewel of the San Joaquin Valley, well worth your time to take the 198-exit east to Visalia from Highway 99. ?
Early growth in Visalia can be attributed in part to the gold rush along the Kern River. The gold fever brought many transient miners through Visalia along the way and when the lure of gold failed to materialize, many returned to Visalia to live their lives and raise families.??

In 1858 Visalia was added to John Butterfield's Overland Stage route from St. Louis to San Francisco. A plaque commemorating the location can be found at 116 East Main Street. Included in the early crop of citizens were some notorious and nasty individuals who preyed upon the travelers along the Butterfield Stage route. Many saloons and hotels sprouted up around the stage stop downtown and commerce was brisk if a bit risky. ?

The next memorable event was the arrival of the telegraph in 1860. Visalians then could get timely information of the events taking place on the East Coast which would ultimately develop into the Civil War.?? During the Civil War, many of citizens of Visalia couldn't decide whether Visalia should stand on the side of the North or the South, so they simply had a Mini Civil War of their own on Main Street. ??No one really knows the outcome of the war, but apparently it was concluded to the satisfaction of the participants and life returned to normal. ??The federal government however, was not so easily convinced and reacting to concern about sedition, banned Visalia’s pro-south Equal Rights Expositor newspaper and established a military garrison. Camp Babbitt was built in 1862 to stop overt southern support as well as maintain law and order in the community.

During these Civil War years, Visalia was incorporated which gave the town new rights. The second incorporation in 1874 moved Visalia into city status with a common council and an ex-officio Mayor and President.?? Once a creek side settlement, Visalia is now a thriving city, and has become a community that takes great pride in the small town feel and high quality of life that accompanies big city amenities.

City of Visalia
707 W. Acequia
Visalia, 93291

Visalia Police Department: (559) 734-8116
Visalia Fire Department: (559) 713-4266

Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau
220 North Santa Fe Street
Visalia, CA 93292-6436
(559) 334-0141