marsh that has blossomed into Fountain Valley
once was known as Gospel Swamp, where cattle grazed
and itinerant preachers set up tents on small
a severe drought in the late 1870's turned the
marsh - fed by the Santa Ana River - into rich
farmland, blessed with natural springs and artesian
Stearns, a Massachusetts investor, sold off large
chunks of the fertile land to wheat, sugar beet,
barley and lima-bean farmers, according to the
the late 1890s, the area had a blacksmith shop,
the Fountain Valley School, a general store and
a post office. When pioneer James T. Talbert formed
a drainage district in 1903 that channeled the
wandering Santa Ana River, land values jumped
from $10 to $500 an acre.
the turn of the century, the population was 20,000.
By 1920, there were 61,000 area residents, and
two small villages were forming.
the 1930s large farms gave way to truck farming,
mostly by Japanese-American farmers, in the community
then known as Talbert.
1950s brought freeways and talk of incorporation
to fend off possible annexation to the cities
of Santa Ana or Garden Grove. Supporters of an
independent city favored a return to what they
considered the town's original name - Fountain
Valley, after the old school.
June 1957, 160 voters overwhelmingly supported
incorporation, and Fountain Valley became Orange
County's 21st city. The first City Council, made
up primarily of farmers, pledged to keep the new
city a farming community. But in the early 1960s
the new San Diego (I-405) Freeway sliced the community
in half, driving up land values and luring housing
Ranch - 8572 Talbert Ave.
Home of Roch Courreges, a Basque sheep rancher
who came to the area in 1878 from San Francisco.
In 1896, he purchased 80 acres of land. He founded
First National Bank of Huntington Beach, the Smeltzer
Telephone Co. and the Farmer's Cannery. The water-tank
house built in 1898, and the main house, built
in 1912, still are standing. The ranch is not
open to the public.