Living Here

Porterville - Gateway to the Southern Sierra

Porterville offers an old-town charm and pioneering spirit to visitors as well as serving as the gateway to Sequoia National Forest and the Great Western Divide Highway.

Nestled up against the Sierra Nevada, Porterville is the gateway to winter fun as there are several areas on Sequoia National Forest in which to play in the snow.

The community's charming downtown area offers a number of attractions such as unique boutiquestyle retailers, antique stores, restaurants, a multicultural art center and beautiful historic downtown murals.

Main Street is also home to numerous special events, such as the popular Iris Festival held each April and the Veterans Day/Homecoming Parade that has been held on Veterans Day for more than 90 years.

The Iris Festival is held in late April and draws more than 20,000 to the city. The festival is a celebration of Porterville's official city flower, the purple iris. The city is also home to the world's largest distributor of re-blooming iris, Sutton's Iris Garden.

Many other events and activities are offered throughout the community year-round, including a community-supported country fair and various cultural offerings, not to mention, California's longest-running community theater – Barn Theater featuring live dramatic performances.

Surrounding Porterville are the communities of Springville, Terra Bella and Ducor.

Springville offers a nice stop on the way into Sequoia National Forest. Off of Highway 190 on the Tule River Indian Reservation is Eagle Mountain Casino, a popular spot in the foothills. Also, Success Lake is just a 10-minute drive east of downtown Porterville.

When much of the Valley is shrouded in fog during the winter months, Porterville basks in sunshine because it sits at about 500 feet in elevation. Golfers can take in the sun at the city golf course in town, or at River Island Country Club above Success Lake, one of the premier golf courses in the Central Valley.

The early pioneers knew of Porterville's locality for there was plentiful water from the snow-capped mountains which attracted great herds of wild horses, elk, antelope, deer, bear and other wild game to hunt. Along with many eager gold-seekers, Royal Porter Putnam left his Pennsylvania home in 1857 and took the southern route of the Emigrant Trail to California. In December 1858, Royal was employed to manage the Tule River Station, which soon became known as Porter's Station.

Because of the region's abundance of game, ideal climate for growing crops and the natural pasture land available, farms and ranches were soon established. Royal soon opened a hotel and general merchandise store to accommodate the growing influx of settlers, thereby realizing his dream of creating a community where people could live comfortable, rewarding lives at the base of the mighty Sierra. Porter's Station soon became a town and eventually was named Porterville. (Celebrate Porterville's 150th birthday in 2011!)

Porterville is nestled against the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, perhaps the most magnificent and one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world. Ringed by foothills on three sides with the San Joaquin Valley to the west, the community of Porterville has long and strong ties to the Southern Sierra communities to the east.

The foothills and mountains are a big backyard for Porterville and the other communities of Southeastern Tulare County. And what a backyard!

Porterville is the gateway into Sequoia National Forest and the Sequoia National Monument with its magnificent giant sequoias, creeks, rivers, a lake, forests with the biggest trees in the world, world class rockclimbing, places to camp and hike, hunt and fish, and lots more.

Whether you live in Southeastern Tulare County or are visiting, you will find lots to discover and plenty to do in the Southern Sierra.

**Article borrowed with permission from Discover Magazine/Valley Voice Newspaper.

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