Incorporated in 1914, the City of Corcoran, population of 25,893, is located in the heartland of California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. Corcoran is a “small town” in the best sense of the word, with its citizens working together on major community projects. Corcoran has been built on a strong agricultural base because it is located near one of the most remarkable geographic features in the San Joaquin Valley, the Tulare Lake Basin, which is the most fertile region in the world.
“A Great Place to Raise a Family”
Even before Corcoran was “Corcoran”, the small town has always been and remains today a major part of the State of California and the Central San Joaquin Valley. At the turn of the 20th Century Corcoran served as a junction for the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad. The junction, a regular stop for four daily trains, consisted of a platform from which business transactions were handled for trains entering from the north, south and easterly directions.
Unsure of where the towns name came from, it has been narrowed down to two individuals prominently mentioned throughout history. General Corcoran, a San Joaquin Valley pioneer, operated a steamboat between Stockton and Tulare Lake. Thomas Corcoran a railroad superintendent worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, which eventually bought out both the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley lines.
H. J. Whitley, a prominent land developer from southern California, took the lead in building Corcoran (the main street of the community is named in his honor). Liking what he saw during a visit to the area in 1905 (a blacksmith shop, small store, scattered homes and a lush, untapped vista with herds of grazing wild hogs, horses and steers) Whitley purchased 32,000 acres to start development and moved a member of his real estate firm, J. W. Guiberson, to the area. Guiberson became one of the many pioneers of the community, building the first home and business structure in Corcoran. His family also helped establish the first church in the community, an event which helped lead to the town’s incorporation on August 14, 1914. The basis of Corcoran’s economy then and now is agriculture. Initially, the most successful crops were grains, alfalfa and sugar beets.
A Small Yet Thriving Community….
Founded in 1925, the J. G. Boswell Company, engaged in both agriculture and real estate, is one of the largest irrigated farming operations in the world. The company is totally vertically integrated, with its largest farm, and the processing division, located in Corcoran. Primary crops are Pima cotton, alfalfa hay, tomatoes, and wheat. The company employs approximately 1200 people.
One of Corcoran’s industries is the state prisons. Corcoran State Prison (Corcoran I), completed in 1989 the facility is the state’s largest prison. To date, the prison employs 1,900 individuals, and houses 4,951 prisoners. California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (Corcoran II) completed in 1997 this prison also has a 21 bed hospital wing addition. To date this prison employs 1,745 individuals and houses around 7,000 prisoners.
Corcoran leaders are continuing to push for additional industries to further solidify and diversify the local economic base. Virtus Nutrition LLC, Buttonwillow Warehouse, San Francisco Bay Brand, Inc. are all located at one of the city’s industrial parks. Currently the City is working on an additional industrial park to allow for growth. Downtown you will find a Rite Aid pharmacy, and many different fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Taco Bell, Subway, and 3 different pizza parlors.
Located in the heart of the Central Valley, Corcoran’s population, excluding prison inmates as of 2005 stands at 10,577. The community is served by a branch of the Kings County library, and a weekly newspaper — The Corcoran Journal. The Corcoran Unified School District offers kindergarten through 12th grade classes with three elementary schools, one junior high and one high school. West Hills College and College of the Sequoias (C.O.S.) serve the local community college needs in nearby Lemoore, Hanford and Visalia with C.O.S. classes being offered in Corcoran as well. In 2009, a multi-million dollar Technology Learning Center opened and is located on the campus of Corcoran High School at the corner of Whitley and Dairy Avenues. The center will serve all students in the community, and future educational opportunities to be offered are still under discussion.
Youth interested in agricultural pursuits will find a Future Farmers of America program at the high school agricultural department as well as traditional 4-H activities through the Corcoran 4-H Club. Service organizations of the community include the Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions groups, American Legion, the Thursday Club (a Woman’s club which boasts 100 years existence in Corcoran), Corcoran 50-50 Club, an auxiliary to the Corcoran District Hospital, and other fraternal and professional groups. The Corcoran Christmas Tree Committee, an advisory committee of the Chamber of Commerce, provides the community with an Annual Christmas Tree placed in the heart of the city – Downtown at the intersection of Whitley and Chittenden Avenues. The live tree provides the community tradition, almost eighty years of placement in the city — considered perhaps the longest standing tradition of a live lit tree nationwide.
Over 18 churches call Corcoran home. Corcoran’s recreation program boasts nine public parks and four playgrounds. The YMCA sports a $3 million facility complete with saunas, Jacuzzis, racquetball courts and weight room, while other city recreational opportunities include lighted tennis courts, state of the art baseball diamonds, soccer fields, skate park, complete Senior Center, newly renovated city swimming facility boasting an Olympic size swimming pool with a 162 ft. water slide, a children’s swimming pool and an extensive recreation program. Five public golf courses can be reached in less than 30 minutes. The city is just two hours away from the Pacific Ocean and a one hour drive from the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.
Passenger Service is offered by AMTRAK, which serves Corcoran with 6 Northbound and 6 southbound trains daily. Greyhound bus connections can be made in Tulare, with plans for a local connection in the near future. Existing single family homes range from $175,000 to $280,000 while rentals for one and two bedroom apartments and duplexes from $650 to $705 per month and two to three bedroom houses rent from $700 to $1,100 per month, depending on location and amenities.
Remaining civic areas of interest include: Police Department — Twenty-one full time personnel including 15 uniformed officers, five clerk-dispatchers, two reserve officers, and Animal Control Services. Kings County Fire Department provides firemen who provide services with the assistance of volunteers. Industrial sites — There are approximately 320 acres in the city limits zones for light and heavy industry with two industrial parks included in this total.