The Fascinating History of Orange County: From Spanish Colonization to Surfing

In the 18th century, the Spanish Empire set out on a mission to colonize the western coast of the New World. Led by Gaspar de Portolá, the expeditionary forces sought to quickly transform California's native American population into Spanish citizens in order to strengthen ties with Spain.

Portolá was the first European military leader to officially explore and write about the territory of Orange County.

He named many of his rivers, mountains and valleys after Catholic saints. The city of Anaheim was established in 1859 by a group of German immigrants who had purchased part of the Cajón de Santa Ana in Rancho San Juan. They dug a ditch and planted vineyards before settling in the area.

The two main groups of American Indians in Orange County were believed to have come from the Shoshonean family. The name Orange first appears in OC when the new Post Office in the City of Richland is called the Orange Post Office. In 1921, the Orange County Library, the County Health Department and the Eddie Martin Airport were inaugurated for the first time. James Irvine bought Irvine Ranch, which then represented about one-fifth of the total amount of real estate in Orange County. But probably the best evidence, he says, comes from James Guinn, one of the county's first historians, who relates the name to political efforts to create a separate Orange County. In 1769, José Antonio Yorba, born in Spain, became a cape under Portolá's orders during the Spanish expedition.

After Mexico controlled California, large ranchers oversaw the development of commercial properties, homes and land in Orange County for trade. In 1976, Highway 57 in Orange was completed and, in 1979, Highway 73 in Corona Del Mar was also completed. The postwar boom hit Orange County hard in the 1950s and communities such as Garden Grove and Buena Park grew at an incredible rate. The votes cast by Orange County residents were 2,509 votes in favor of having their own county compared to 500 votes against. In 1922, Duke Kahanamoku brought surfing to Orange County and KFAW was the county's first radio station. A renowned writer, Kim Stanley Robinson wrote his Three Californias (or Orange County trilogy) series entitled The Wild Shore (1984), The Gold Coast (1988) and Pacific Edge (1990).