ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
By Samuel Armor
In the year 1867 two attorneys of Los Angeles, A. B. Chapman and Andrew Glassell, bought a portion of the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, laid out the town of Richland – afterwards named Orange – near the center of the tract, subdivided the remainder into small farms, and put the whole upon the market. It took about three years to get the preliminary work done and to bring water from the Santa Ana river to the land so as to make it habitable; hence the settlement dates its beginning from the year 1870.
The topography of this tract and adjacent territory shows a comparatively regular mesa about five miles wide and ten miles long, descending gently from an elevation of about three hundred feet above sea level at the foothills north and east of Orange towards the Santa Ana river on the west and the lowlands on the south, with the San Bernardino range of mountains in the background, some seventy-five miles distant. This plain is considered a delta of the Santiago creek and the Santa Ana river, and was formed by the sediment brought down by these streams from the mountains and foothills. The soil is a sandy loam, many feet in depth and of practically the same quality throughout, rich in plant food and pervious to water and the roots of plants and trees, thus becoming a great store-house for vegetation to draw its food and moisture from.
The rains in this section usually descend during the winter months upon the mountain, hill and valley slopes, sink into the ground, and then drain out at lower levels into the streams during the summer months. The average annual rainfall at Orange for a long term of years was 13.72 inches; but in the mountains, where the Santa Ana river takes its rise, the rainfall is more than double that quantity. The water thus provided is taken from the river by the Santa Ana Valley Irrigation Company, a co-operative company formed of the land-owners themselves, and is distributed to each at cost. This cost has averaged from seventy-five cents to one dollar per acre per year for several years past. An abundant and cheap water supply for irrigation is an absolute insurance against drouth. The city also owns the water-works for domestic supply and furnishes water to its inhabitants at reasonable rates.
The maximum, minimum and mean temperature at Orange for the past five years have been as follows:
1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
Maximum 100 97 97 97 102
Minimum 29 30 28 31 28
Mean 64.5 63.5 62.5 64 65
Of course, the maximum and the minimum temperatures quoted above were but for a day or two in each year; nine-tenths of the time the atmosphere was pleasant and agreeable, the temperature ranging from 60 to 80 degrees in the daytime and from 40 to 60 degrees in the night-time. The territory between Orange and the foothills is about as free from frost as any part of the State, and makes a specialty of raising winter vegetables. During the past winter the shipment of green peas by express from Orange approximated one hundred sacks per day for many days.
In a territory thus favored with fertile soil, abundant water and an equable climate, nearly everything that can be grown anywhere is grown to a greater or less extent ; but only such products as will pay to ship to a distance are raised in excess of the home demand. As an indication of the kind and quantity of surplus products raised, the carload shipments from Orange last year, reported by the packing-houses, were: Oranges, 718 cars; lemons, 68 cars; dried apricots, 13 cars; walnuts, 5 cars; while the less-than-carload unclassified shipments reached nearly two million pounds, not including the shipments by express. A great many farmers raise such animals as they need, while a few raise a surplus to sell; many also go extensively into poultry raising. A number of bee-ranches are maintained in the cañons east of Orange. Thousands of rose bushes are propagated every year northeast of the city for the Eastern market. A large flouring mill at Olive, operated by water power from one of the water company's canals, puts out about $135,000 worth of mill-products every year. Several pipe-works are doing a thriving business in this vicinity, manufacturing cement water-pipe and artificial stone. These various industries might be more particularly described and others might be mentioned, did space permit.
The City of Orange, incorporated in 1888 as a city of the sixth class, has an area of about three square miles and a population of about 2000 inhabitants. Its railroad facilities are excellent, with the usual express, telegraph and telephone service. A beautiful little plaza, with its fountain and flagpole, marks the center of the city; about four miles of the streets nearest this center are bordered on each side with cement walks and curbs. One firm reported having furnished lumber for 75 new houses, which were erected in Orange and vicinity during the past year, and there were others furnishing materials in this section. Three two-story brick buildings, costing $4,000, $7,000 and $14,000, were added to the business houses during the same period; a couple more, to cost $4,429 and $5,800 respectively, are under contract.
In addition to the material advantages claimed for this section, citizens of Orange and vicinity find plenty of opportunities for cultivating their esthetic tastes for the rational enjoyment of the blessings of life. Here are excellent schools for all grades, from the primary to the high school, churches of nearly every denomination, societies galore, lectures and entertainments, and one of the best public libraries and reading rooms in the county. There are many charming drives in the vicinity of Orange, and attractive pleasure resorts may be found at the seashore or in the mountains.
Oh! Orange is the place, and “seeing is believing.”
(Out West, April 1906)