Orange County History
It was late in July in 1769 when the first party of European explorers reached the boundaries of present-day Orange County. Members of the expedition named the region "The Valley of Saint Anne" (Santa Ana). Father Junipero Serra, part of this expedition came back and dedicated the Mission San Juan Capistrano in November 1776. Today it is one of the most visited missions in California.
In 1801, Jose Antonio Yorba, a volunteer in the previous Portola expedition returned in 1801 to develop the first rancho (Santiago de Santa Ana) in what are today the cities of Villa Park , Orange, Tustin, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana.
In 1835 right around the time cattle were introduced into the region, Richard Henry Dana developed Dana Point known as, in his writings as the "Only Romantic Spot on the California Coast".
Drought soon brought an end to the cattle land and pioneers like James Irvine bought up 110,000 acres of land and put sheep on it. Today the Irvine land has multi-million dollar estate homes and is one of the most valuable in the country.
In 1887 when silver was discovered in the Santa Ana Mountains, boomtowns like Fullerton, Buena Park and El Toro quickly became the "Place To Be" in the West.
Orange County was formally separated from Los Angeles in 1889 and farmers came to realize it was an enormously rich for the growing of oranges. Over 150,000 orange trees were planted, thus the county took the name Orange County.
The Old Orange County Courthouse, dedicated in 1901 has been set as a California Historic Landmark and looks much the same as it did back then.
So it seems the adventurous pioneers all did very well for themselves and their families. People like Walter Knott, turned from farmer to entrepreneur and developed Knott´s Berry Farm in Buena Park. Henry Huntington brought the Railroad to Huntington Beach and shortly after oil was discovered. George Fullerton bought land for the Railroad out west and started his own little piece of countryside in what is today Fullerton. And let´s not forget Mr. Walt Disney bringing us the "Happiest Place on Earth" in 1955 -- Disneyland.