Tulare Public Library Collection


Tulare is often referred to as the town the railroad built. The Southern Pacific Railroad laid its first tracks in this area in 1872. The population at that time was about 20 people. By the time the roundhouse and division headquarters were built in 1875, the population had grown to almost 300. As the railroad continued to attract people, the population rose to 690 by the end of 1877.
Tulare suffered three devastating fires in those early years. In 1875 most of the few downtown businesses were destroyed. In 1883, flames devastated twenty-five establishments. The third and most destructive fire occurred in 1886 when more than 77 businesses were completely demolished by fire. But the town recovered from each disaster, rebuilt and was finally incorporated in April of 1888. At the time of incorporation, Tulare boasted a population of 3,250.

In 1891, the Southern Pacific Railroad relocated its offices and much of the population (who were dependent on or employed by the railroad) to Bakersfield. This caused the economic emphasis to switch from the railroad to agriculture. Tulareans took advantage of this fertile land belt and sought to develop and cultivate its agrarian resources. Thus began the building of artesian wells, the establishment of the Irrigation District, and the invention of newer types of farming equipment. Also at this time, many dairy farms were established. Today, Tulare County is recognized as the second largest agricultural economy in the United States.

The photographs in these collections tell only part of the story of Tulare County and the folk who made this town the desirable location it is today.

Some of the photographs included on this site are from the Clara Coyle Collection. The library has substantial information on local history. The genealogical section includes information on Tulare County pioneers as well as historical information on small towns.


  • Tulare Public Library

Collection Tree

Elmo R. Zumwalt at Fort Lewis
Elmo R. Zumwalt as a captain at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Tulare Canal
View of Tulare Canal.

McCubbin Pioneer
J.C. McCubbin as he looked in 1886 when pioneering with the Bloyds in the "76 country" also known as the Alta District.