Over 150 years ago, Orangevale’s gentle rolling hills were covered with oak trees and trails made by the Maidu Indians, deer, and small animals. Settlers, farmers, and gold seekers from around the world came to this area, attracted by the bountiful agriculture and the Mother Lode. Shortly, land grants were sold and divided. Soon lured were the cattlemen; many arriving on the new transcontinental railroad.
Check out an original Orangevale advertisement from the turn of the 20th century.
Orangevale (originally Orange Vale) was known for the many orange groves existing in the largely agricultural area known as the 1884 Santa Juanita Grant of the Mexican government. The first map filed for the area was dated at the Sacramento Recorder’s Office on May 24, 1888. In 1895 another map was recorded showing a street network with the name “Orange Vale Colony,” named after the colonization company and its orange groves.
Twenty children attended the first school, established in 1889, which Villa, circa 1889, was also one of the first buildings in Orange Vale and it overlooked the American River. In 1992, “The Villa” was moved to Oak Avenue and has been restored to its original state by Serve Our Seniors. It has been designated as a Point of Historical Interest by the California State Historical Resources Commission.
Orange Vale gradually became known as Orangevale, although often referred to as “the Vale”. Colonists arrived in increasing numbers and “the Vale” became very successful. Fortunately, Orangevale had the availability of water. Ready-made ditches in the eastern section, dug for placer mining on Mississippi Bar, were a perfect source of irrigation needed for the orange groves, vineyards, and other fruit tree orchards. Although agricultural difficulty struck in 1930 when an extremely frigid winter wiped out nearly all the orange groves, farming continued. Orangevale progressed as a quiet rural town, growing slowly and steadily.
Because of its natural beauty (including waterways and mountain views), recreational opportunities, high-ranking schools, and the industrial growth of Sacramento and Placer Counties, people continue to settle in Orangevale. In the midst of this growth remain many original oak trees, trails, and a unique rural character that express the essential character of Orangevale.
The industry continues to grow in Sacramento and Placer Counties, especially in the insurance, medical, retail, and high-technology fields. The continued allure of Orangevale and Sacramento and Placer Counties is an industry-friendly environment. There is easy access to transit and affordable housing in a very desirable area. Orangevale’s 1996 population was approximately 34,000 in its 10.4 square miles. Orangevale is 25 miles northeast of Sacramento at an elevation of about 240 feet (above mean sea level.)