tv Agriculture in Fresno County CSPAN February 5, 2017 2:01pm-2:13pm EST
520,000, california's largest inland city sits near the geographic middle of the state, and its location in the san joaquin valley makes it a hub for the agriculture industry. in cooperation with our comcast cable partners, we will explore the history of fresno and the surrounding area. coming up, you will hear from a local farmer about some of the challenges he and others in california face today. >> one thing we talk about when istalk about agriculture diversity. this one single county has over 400 different is diversity. this one single county has over 400 different crops and commodities. >> later, visit fresno state to look at items that help tell the story of japanese-american internment camps during world war ii. >> one of the main goals of this exhibition>> is to explain to people what happened and how the people actually felt themselves who were in those camps.
>> we begin the hour with a visit to the home of one of fresno's early agriculture pioneers. ruth lang: we are in the kearney mansion. this was the managers residence. mr. kearney did not intend to live here or mentally. he at plans for a grander chateau to be built on the property. he's lived here for years until he died. mr. kearney was really a self-made man. he was not born here in california. he was born in liverpool, england. his family immigrated. they settled in a suburb of boston. and he went to commercial college, learned how to be a businessman. and he worked for a manufacturing company there. he started as a clerk, and before he knew it, he was a manager of the business they are in boston. sometime in a kasich yunnan, he
decided to come out here to california. it was a perfect time because the transcontinental railroad was coming through. and they decided this was the perfect opportunity to grow crops in this region. so, mr. kearney was hired by mr. william chapman, who bought a lot of the property out here through agricultural strips. he hired mr. kearney to develop the colony farms out here. he started the first colony farm, central colony, out here in this area. mr. kearney, that is really where he made his money. he was just a great land per motor. he enticed people to the central valley and settle here. -- he was just a great land promoter. the thing that really brought people out here was irrigation. the canals that were formed here would bring to the colonies their own irrigation water. there were also vineyards
planted for them and other fruit trees and so on. so, it really was a great opportunity to settle in this region. the first crop they realized was successful was weeks. the result wonderful wheatfield that was growing here. once they realize they could bring water from the river to irrigate it, it was ideal. eventually fruit crops, raisins, or a big part of what was grown out here and what we are known as today. we also have the regular grapevines out here. today we still have this. fruit trees, orange trees, almonds. they realize this was a perfect area for that. he wanted to get together a co-op of reason growers to structure the pricing, control quality of raisins, and so he started the california raisin grower association of the game the president -- and became the president.
everyone thought that is a wonderful idea. he was known as the raisin king of fresno. however, there were problems with people not getting along, not everybody agreeing with the ideas he had. eventually that went by the wayside. but the managerial ideas he had where later formed in another company, the sunmaid raisin company. this is the kearney state office. even though the kearney mansion was his home, this is where the business was conducted. a lot of people would come through the back door. this was the main entrance to the office door. the rail you see out there was
the original rail. many years of people riding on the rail still shows. you can see it in the wood. people who wanted to buy property, perhaps people who worked here on the ranch, maybe the workers would pickup their paycheck, fill out forms -- you can see many years of people using that particular area as they came in. so, the estate office changed over the years, but it's very similar to how it was when mr. kearney was here. in the back of the mansion, at one time, was a full -- this is the kearney mansion. at the same time, the house had been constructed and there was a very large water tower. they had everything in here that anyone really could use. it really was a full working farm. in the 1940's and 1950's, it was torn down. we do have some structures remaining like the carriage house is still here today. we have these buildings in the back.
we do have this wonderful picture to refer to. here in the estate office, a lot of people enjoy seeing the different things of what he had here in the office. here is the safe. it was a walk-in safe. you will see kearney even yurts syndicate on the top. that is, of course, were mr. kearney would store his important papers, money, anything he needed safely stored away was in that safe. we have a filing cabinet here that was here during mr. kearney from time the labels were added later. this shows you what was here on the ranch. all of the things that were grown. peaches, prunes, alfalfa, grapes, of course, raisins were obviously a big crop out here. today when you come into kearney park, you see the big fields. that's where the alfalfa was
grown. over in the corner, we see this wonderful broadside poster. this is in original poster. 1889. this is when mr. kearney was selling the land here on the fruitvale estate. these were 20-acre farms. very affordable for most people. and you can see on the top, what the vision of one of those farms would look like. you see the canals. again, we have those today all over the city to bring water to the crops. below was a picture of the chateau. that was going to be named chateau fresno, and it was modeled after a chateau in france. this is what kearney envisioned to be out here in kearney park, and that is where he would live. unfortunately, however, the chateau was not built. mr. kearney died in 1906.
in april of 1906, was actually in the san francisco earthquake at that time. he was not in the best of health. then he suffered probably a mild heart attack at that time. he came back here to fresno to recuperate, and he was going to go to his yearly trip abroad. he would usually do that to seek investors for his fruitvale estates project or socialize. unfortunately, while on board ship, he died of another heart attack. as soon as there was word he died, the link stopped. he was not married. he did not have any children. his will left everything to the university of california-berkeley, so they could build and make a cultural college out here. they chose not to complete the
chateau, and still continue to use it as a wrench. it would have been beautiful to have that, but unfortunately, it did never happen and we did not have a chateau fresno here in fresno. this is mr. kearney pro private office. this is very similar to how it looked when mr. kearney lived here. as we walked through the house, we have pictures of what the house looked like when mr. kearney lived here. it is very similar to how it was when mr. kearney lived here. we have this in the wall here to show people what the structure is made out of, and that is adobe brick. it was very good insulation to keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer before we had air-conditioning and heating. it really was a sandy plain. not much out here. there was some vegetation, maybe some trees, but you can really get a sense of what it looked like when they did the groundbreaking. this picture shows chateau park -- that's what it was called.
it was not called kearney park then. in february 1892. mr. kearney is in the front there with the long duster jacket. right behind in the photo there is a building, and really it was the first manager's residents. kearney mansion was the second manager's residents. that was the first build. that building exists today. we call it these servants quarters and is the head quarters for the fresno historical society today. on the property, mr. kearney did have this wonderful general stored that his employees could shop in and they would give out little coins to the employees and they could use that in the general store and exchange them for goods.
kind of kept everything in the business, obviously, but it also helps the employees who did not have to go into town so much. i guess there was another store in town that would accept the tokens as well. instead of using paper money, they would just use the tokens to purchase what they needed. also, there is a postcard of the original chateau in france, and i'm sure he visited their and that's where he got the idea -- visited there, and that's rate of the idea of having his own chateau here in fresno. unfortunately, the chateau did not get built. we at least have this house today to bring people in. this is how they would about agriculture, learn about mr. kearney. we are so lucky that the kearney mansion still exists today. >> this weekend, we are featuring the history of fresno, california.