The Woodlake area was originally the home of Yokut and Wutchumna Indians who lived around Bravo Lake. Early settlers ranged cattle in the area. In 1907, three local men bought and subdivided land on the east side of Cottonwood Creek and named it Elderwood.

The community of Woodlake was founded in 1912 by Gilbert F. Stevenson, a wealthy southern California land developer. Stevenson optioned 13,000 acres in the Woodlake area south of Elderwood with the vision of establishing citrus orchards around a model planned community.  Stevenson first built a two-story brick building on the corner of Valencia and Naranjo Boulevards - still Woodlake's main intersection to this day.  Stevenson went on to establish the beginnings of Woodlake's infrastructure, installing streets, water and sewer lines and water wells. Stevenson's company "The Woodlake Townsite Company" promoted the town extensively, claiming that it was "the fastest growing town in central California."

Within its first year, Woodlake could boast of several retail stores, two schools, two churches, a telephone company, a bank, a doctor's office and a newspaper in addition to more residences.  Stevenson lobbied for a bridge to cross the St. John's River and ended up paying for half of the structure himself.

Stevenson ensured the railroad came to town by donating three miles of right-of-way.  Both the Visalia Electric Railroad and Santa Fe eventually extended lines to Woodlake.  Stevenson sold agricultural land and soon miles of orchards sprang up in the outlying area.

Stevenson built stout levees around the natural Bravo Lake (also known as Wood Lake) at the southeast edge of town, ensuring the lake became a permanent water feature and a source of recreational activity for the community's residents.

Woodlake continued to grow and prosper, becoming a shipping hub for the productive agricultural region surrounding the city.  Woodlake's residents voted to incorporate and become Tulare County’s seventh city on September 14, 1941. The city plays host to the famous Lion's Rodeo every May.  Woodlake's downtown enjoys continued success as the center of the community.  Recently, the city's Redevelopment Agency has started a facade renovation program that is restoring glory to downtown's many older buildings.  A new senior citizen's apartment building has added additional life and vitality to the downtown environment.

With its past secure in the pages of history, Woodlake looks forward to its future as a small, prosperous agricultural town nestled snugly in California's citrus belt, at the foot of the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains.

City of Woodlake
Woodlake City Hall
350 N. Valencia Blvd.
Woodlake, CA  93286

Woodlake Police Department: (559) 564-3325
Woodlake Fire District: (559) 564-2181
Woodlake Planning & Building Department: (559) 564-8055
Woodlake Chamber of Commerce: (559) 564-3559