Orange County, California is a region of immense beauty and rich history. From its early days as a center for packing and shipping fruits to its current status as the home of Disneyland and Mickey Mouse, Orange County has seen many changes over the years. Laguna Beach is the second oldest city in Orange County, and it was first discovered by movie stars as a comfortable getaway. The area was originally home to Native American tribes such as the Juaneno and Gabrielino Indians, who fished in the abundant oceans and hunted and gathered from the land.
The early settlers of Orange County saw riches in the good land, with wide areas of distribution and pristine beaches. Two lawyers, Alfred Beck Chapman and Andrew Glassell, seized 1,385 acres of land instead of paying legal fees and converted it into a city originally called Richland, which was later renamed Orange. George Hansen, representing a group of German settlers, bought the land along the Santa Ana River that would become Anaheim. The rich soil of northern and central Orange County produced barley, wheat, grapes, walnuts, oranges and lemons.
Dairy farms thrived in what would become Cypress and La Palma. To the south, Dana Point and Newport Beach became busy ports. Cattle and sheep roamed the open ranches of the South County interior. In the early 20th century, Huntington Beach landowners discovered oil and movie stars discovered Laguna Beach.
After World War II, farmland was replaced by houses in the north, center and west areas of the county, giving rise to cities such as Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa and Los Alamitos. Growth eventually spread to the south, transforming still-rugged ranches and productive farmland into housing areas in the late 1960s. Santa Ana is the metropolis and county seat of Orange County. It contains six thousand people, or nearly a third of the population of Orange County.
The city has built its own complete water system, providing abundant pure artesian water to its inhabitants at cost; it has built its own separate sewerage system and maintains two public parks and an electrical public lighting system that covers not only the commercial and residential parts of the city but also the main roads that lead to it. A visit to Mission San Juan Capistrano is a must-see for visitors to Orange County as it provides a wealth of information about its culture and history. The 1908 Harvey Bennett Ranch is another great place to explore as it represents the citrus growing days of early 20th century Orange County. Agriculture was a booming business at this time with one-sixth of all Valencia oranges coming from this region. Opened in 1901, the Old Orange County Courthouse and Museum is another great place to visit for those interested in learning more about this area's rich history. There are many interactive historic sites in Orange County that offer great options for learning about its past.