Kings County California CA (Detailed)

Agriculture is King in Kings County! But there’s more to this central Californian County slap-bang inside the fertile San Joaquin Valley. The County’s seat Hanford has a dynamic farming community. Lake Tulare anchors the County, with the earliest habitats dating back thousands of years.

A third of Kings County’s population lives in Hanford beside Lake Tulare. The Tachi Yokuts have lived at Lake Tulare for thousands of years. In the last 200 years, the Lake’s water has been diverted for irrigation on farmlands. The once largest freshwater Lake is threatened with extinction.

Kings County Courthouse — Hanford California. - California View
Kings County Courthouse — Hanford California.

What Is Kings County California Known For?

Kings County’s population is 152,486, and Hanford’s is 53,967. The San Joaquin Valley, formed in the early Paleocene era, is 66million years old! The climate is hot with dry summers and mild winters with characteristic tule fog. Kings County, and other counties in the Valley, make up 12.8% of the United States agricultural production.

  • Pioneering Agriculture
  • Largescale Agriculture
  • Tulare Lake
  • Terrapin Soup
  • Stratford’s Irigaray
  • San Joachim Culture

Kings County is in a fertile valley but still falls into the highest percentage of people living under the federal poverty line. The earliest inhabitants, the Tachi Yokuts tribe, are in reserve at Santa Rosa Rancheria.

Pioneering Agriculture

Early settlers started around Tulare Lake and claimed the wetlands for agricultural development. In the decades since, the water surface area has shrunk, with monoculture threatening the habitats of animals, birds, and plant species. The 1970s California Aqueduct infrastructure has brought water to agriculture and domestic use.

Hanford appeared on the map in 1876. Frenchman Lovern Lee Moore, in 1871, started the agricultural economy on the shores of Lake Tulare. The fertile land had not been cultivated on largescale yet. From the mid-to-late 1870s, the Southern Pacific Railroad was the primary growth for wealth and population growth.

Wells was put in with plenty of water for crops, and the industry that supplies many of the world’s countries today started then.  

Largescale Agriculture

Kings County stands for Agriculture with a capital A! The 2019 County Agricultural Commissioners’ Crop Reports notes that about 800 farmers produce crops and agricultural products. This ranks Kings County eighth in overall agricultural production in California. In 2020, the value of farm crops and products was $2,179,476,000. This includes wheat, hay, alfalfa, barley, corn, cotton, and grapes.

Kings County has the State’s largest cotton lint and cottonseed farms and is the second-largest vegetable grower – vegetables earned $8,505 000 in 2020. The largest portion was from the tomato processing industry – the Del Monte Foods tomato processing plant and the Olam International tomato processing facility are here.

Trading in livestock and poultry brings in $95 500,000; soft fruits and nuts as $4,433,000, and the earnings from the apiary sector are $2,449,000. Dairy farming produces the highest income – $700,421,000 in 2020. The world’s largest mozzarella cheese’ makers, Leprino Foods, are in Kings County.

Kings County is in the State’s top 5 counties for producing pistachio nuts. Kings County is the third largest for nectarine and plums and ranks fourth for milk production, apricots, peaches, and wheat. Crops and products are exported worldwide.

Tulare Lake

Kings County once has the largest freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes. For centuries, Lake Tulare was the rich habitat of about 70 000 Tache Yokuts who fished from their reed boats. The historic Tulare Lake has gradually diminished since farming and agriculture boomed in the late 19th century. Tulare Lake was diverted in southern San Joaquin Valley for agricultural and municipal uses.

There are many islands on Lake Tulare – Gull Island at the Tule River’s mouth and Pelican Island where the Kings River flows in. As water levels diminish with drainage for agriculture, the islands’ shapes and ecosystems change.

Terrapin Soup

Kings County is linked to the menu of top San Francisco restaurants. Tulare Lake has always been a rich source of fish supply; in 1888, in just three months, 73,500 pounds of fish arrived through Hanford in San Francisco.

From Tulare Lake, a regional favorite is the western pond turtles. The turtles are dished up as terrapin soup in San Francisco (and elsewhere) and are a sought-after delicacy.

Stratford’s Irigaray

Tulare Lake is closely associated with one of Kings County’s most famous eateries, Irigaray. Restauranteur Mariana Irigaray pioneered Basque-inspired recipes that became California cuisine – a tomato, sweet or hot red peppers base with seasonal and local fresh produce. The restaurant was in Stratford, on the historic Lake’s shore.

San Joachim Culture

Kings County can’t escape the County’s larger context, the San Joaquin Valley. The Valley is the birthplace of American country, soul, nu-metal, R&B, and hip hop music and sub-genre Gangsta, Funk, and Indi hip-hop.

Large And Detailed Map Of Kings County California - California View
Large And Detailed Map Of Kings County California

What’s In Kings County?

Wetlands, farmlands, small towns and markets, scenic drives around Tulare Lake, and you can go camping, hiking, swimming, or find ways to amuse yourselves!

Del Lago Community Park

The ideal setting for picnics with 1,4miles of walking trails.

Tulare Historical Museum

When it’s time to learn about where you are, head to Tulare Historical Museum.

Visalia Adventure Park

There’s plenty of adventure at Visalia. The amusement park is on seven acres and has go-karts, mini-golf, and bumper boats! There’s a farmers’ market with the fresh berries picked nearby!

Bravo Farms Restaurant

If you’re not picnicking, hiking, or amusing kids, sit down for California-style foods at Bravo Farms Restaurant – custom-made sandwiches and BBQs!

Tulare Golf Course

The 18-hole Tulare Golf Course is set near the Lake with views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Map Showing The Tulare Lake Basin In Central California - California View
Map Showing The Tulare Lake Basin In Central California

Things To Do In Kings County

It’s not just agriculture that keeps Kings County at the top. The people of Kings County love to party, sing and dance, and show off their produce! There’s plenty to do in county seat Hanford.

  • Hanford Thursday Night Market
  • Studebaker Fire Truck Tour
  • Carnegie Museum
  • Diverse Pasts In Hanford
  • Hanford’s Art And Culture
  • Massive Ice-cream In Top Dairy County

Hanford Thursday Night Market

The Market was established over nineteen years; as locals say, Hanford’s Thursday Evening Market rocks! With Kings County as one of the top 10 food producers, the County’s seat Hanford is the place to show off and taste it all! There’s cheese (Kings County is world-renowned for Mozzarella), nuts, soft fruits, cherries, and strawberries! You can buy your Thanksgiving turkey!

The street is alive the Hanford way – street food and drink. You can ride on one of the last 200 1932 Allan Herschell carousels!

Studebaker Fire Truck Tour

The red 1950s Studebaker fire truck is the choice for an eclectic tour of Hanford. Guide Albert Yarbrough on board ‘Freddie,’ as the truck is known, stops where the town (actually a city) started – the station.

To prepare for exports from the Californian gold rush, rail worker James Madison Hanford chose the spot for the station and the town and named the place after himself. Hanford’s downtown dates back to the late 1800s.

Kings County’s courthouse is one of the oldest (1896). In the 80s, the court was moved, and shops and restaurants are now here.

The old jail, known as The Bastille, was moved too. The Romanesque-style old prison (with a crenelated octagonal tower) is a restaurant and nightclub!  

Yarbrough’s City tour includes a stop at the Chinese quarter preserved as one of 11 ‘endangered’ Chinese Alleys in the U. S, Yarbrough says.

Carnegie Museum

The Hanford Carnegie Museum, built in 1905, was funded by the industrialist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. The museum houses archival material from the early days of Spanish, Mexican, and later American occupation.

Even Hanford’s early history as sheep-camp villages!

Diverse Pasts In Hanford

The history in Hanford is that of the Chinese immigrants who built the railways and worked farms. The famous China Alley once had the Imperial Dynasty restaurant. There’s a Taoist Temple built in 1893.

Hanford’s Black community includes a celebration of Martin Luther King. It took until 2007 to pass a Council resolution recognizing January 15 as an official holiday. Hanford has prominent African-Americans like Chris Jordan. Jordan was the City’s Police Captain for 30 years and then became the first African-American Sheriff of Kings County.

The Hanford community is known for late civil rights activist Wanda Williams-Hinton’s involvement in getting Black History Month celebrated as a citywide annual tradition.

Hanford’s Art And Culture

Hanford has many heydays – some residents keenly tell of the concerts at the Hanford civic auditorium. In the 1940s, Duke Ellington and Tom Dorse played here.

Hanford holds an annual art fair, the Renaissance of Kings Cultural Arts Faire, in the downtown square of the old courthouse. The festival is themed to take on King Henry VIII’s rule in England.

Massive Ice-cream In Top Dairy County

Spoil yourself with a giant scoop of Superior Dairy’s ice cream! The 1920s-style ice-cream parlor is in the historic downtown, across the road from the Civic Auditorium and The Bastille!

Famous People From Lake County

People born and who lived in Kings County are varied in attitude and aptitude – baseball or football players, politicians, writers, psychics, poets, and salt-of-the-earth farmers. Here are some notables.

Lesley Bassett

Lesley Basset, born in Hanford, was a composer of classical music and Professor Emeritus of Composition until he died in 2016. Bassett got the 1966 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Henry Tyler

Born Tyler Henry Koelewyn in 1995, this American reality host is a clairvoyant medium in Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry. He grew up in Hanford.

Sean Parnell

Sean Parnell, attorney, and politician, was born in Hanford and became the U.S. Governor of Alaska.

James Rainwater

Leo James Rainwater grew up in Hanford, studied at Columbia University, and shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975 for finding out that specific atomic nuclei have asymmetrical shapes.

Darrell Winfield

Yes, the Malboro Man was born in Hanford. Darrel H. Winfield, an American rancher, and actor, was the face of Marlboro cigarettes.

Michael A Baker

The astronaut, Michael A Baker, grew up in Lemoore, got an aerospace engineering degree, and went out to space!

Kings County FAQ

Interesting Facts About Kings County?

Did you know that the famed pilot Amelia Earhart lived in Hanford? Earhart taught flying at Fresno Airport. Mary Packwood was one of her students and a friend. On the day Earhart disappeared in the Pacific Ocean in 1937, she gave Packwood a dress she’s made and some luggage. Her story and the apparel are exhibited at Hanford’s Carnegie Museum.

Is Kings County A Good Place To Live?  

Agriculture is Kings County’s mainstay and so too are entrepreneurial efforts. About 31,900 people are employed – 14,800 in government, 5,500 in agriculture, 4,300 in manufacturing and 1,000 in construction. The people’s spirit, diversity, and entrepreneurship generations give Kings County its color and flavor – a good place to live out your dreams!

Is It Expensive In Kings County?

Money is linked to employment, and small-town living has opportunities for self-sufficiency. Urban markets allow for creativity, and as Kings County depends on tourism, living costs can be high.

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