Apr 26, 2018 11:00AM
By Kerri Regan
By Kerri Regan and Ronda Alvey
• Gold seekers passed through Porterville after gold was discovered in California in 1848, and some decided to stick around and establish farms because of the rich soil. It was incorporated in 1902 and is now home to about 56,000 people.
• Porterville is movie famous – the sheriff in “Big Top Pee-Wee” received a report from Porterville about a windstorm approaching Pee-wee Herman’s town.
• The song “Porterville” was written by Tom Fogerty while he was in the Army and recorded by his band, The Golliwogs. Though it was never a hit, that band later became Creedence Clearwater Revival and it was on their debut album.
• In the 1977 science fiction novel “Lucifer’s Hammer,” Porterville was destroyed and under water. Survivors just above Lake Success dove down into the Porterville stores to try to find food and supplies.
Historical Heritage - Three buildings in Porterville are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: First Congregational Church, the U.S. Post Office-Porterville Main and the Zalud House Museum, which hosts events including weddings and school field trips.
On Stage - The Barn Theater has been providing live entertainment to Porterville for 70 years. It was established by Peter Tewksbury, a World War II veteran who went on to become a television and motion picture director in Hollywood. Its first play was “Petticoat Fever,” with an admission price of 83 cents.
Going Downtown - Historic Main Street includes an array of delightful, locally owned shops, restaurants and galleries. Explore the boutique retailers, multicultural art center and murals, then enjoy a bite at a local eatery. Keep your eye out for locally grown edibles, including oranges, pistachios, olive oils and lemons.
Skate On - Ready to shred? Veterans Park is home to a 15,000-square-foot concrete skate park that includes a half pipe, combi bowl, stairs with handrails and more. Grab a helmet and your board and show ‘em what you’ve got. (There’s also spectator seating if you need a minute to muster your courage.)
Things to do in PORTERVILLE
A Banner Day - As you explore Porterville, keep your eye out for some special banners hung throughout the town. The Military Banner Program honors past and present military personnel for their service, and serves as a public expression of gratitude for their courage and sacrifice.
Let’s Be Fair - The Porterville Fair provides fun for locals and visitors alike. Running from May 9-13 this year, the fair is a 66-year-old community tradition. It’s one of the few fairs run by a nonprofit and it receives no state or federal funding – it’s made possible by a core of hard-working volunteers. Bring your family or a friend and check it out. We’ll save a corn dog for you.
Zalud! - The Zalud House, built in 1891, offers a peek into the past. It’s furnished entirely with the original owner’s belongings, and its 1930s-style rose garden is a hot spot for weddings. Today, it stands exactly as built and has never been remodeled. Tours and garden reservations are available.
Take a hike (or a paddle, or a cycle) - The greater Porterville area includes miles and miles of scenic hiking and biking trails. If you prefer to explore by waterway, you’ve got plenty of rivers or lakes in which to plop a kayak or canoe.
Museum Quality - Before explorers arrived, the San Joaquin Valley was occupied by the Yokuts Indians, and the Porterville Historical Museum contains examples of their handiwork. The museum was founded in 1965 and is housed in the circa-1913 Southern Pacific Depot.
On the map: PORTERVILLE
1: Eagle Mountain Casino is owned and operated by the Tule River Indian Tribe and is located on the Tule River Indian Reservation. The facility includes a casino, two restaurants, a food court, a gift shop, a coffee house and an entertainment center.
2: The nine-hole Porterville Golf Course is one of the oldest courses in the Central Valley, and it’s an awfully pretty spot to spend some time. The municipal course also offers “footgolf,” a combination of soccer and golf – whoever sinks the soccer ball with the fewest kicks wins.
3. Lake Success on the Tule River features opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking and more. If you can’t fit all your adventures into one day, pitch a tent at Tule Campground and stay a while.
4. The Sequoia National Forest Headquarters helps to oversee 2,500 miles of roads and 850 miles of trails in this magnificent forest.