When the first settlers arrived in what is now Visalia in the fall of 1852, they found a lush river delta in the midst of an oak forest at the base of the Sierra Nevada. The soil was fertile, just right for farming, enabling Visalia to take root as the oldest town in the southern San Joaquin Valley. For the next 163 years, the town provided important products and services, like David Walker's Saddle Shop that became home to the famous Visalia Stock Saddle and Ben Maddox's Mount Whitney Power Company that harnessed water from the Kaweah River for electricity. Now with a population of almost 130,000, the county seat of Tulare County continues to be surrounded by some of the most productive farmland in the world and is a vibrant business center.
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