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Merced History

Santa Fe R.R, Merced Station

The City of Merced was established in 1872, just a few years after the formation of Merced County in 1855. The arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad through the Central Valley brought a new importance to area and to Merced. It was selected as the new county seat, replacing Snelling, because of the arrival of rail transportation. In 1875 a new courthouse was completed. That building is now the Courthouse Museum.

Primarily an agricultural region, the addition of canals and irrigation changed the crops produced in Merced County. The County has long been one of the top agricultural producers in the country with a wide variety of crops grown, as well as dairy production. The City of Merced is ideally located to provide transportation for those crops. It is a crossroads served by two railroads and three highways.

UC Merced Library

Merced has now grown to a population of more than 70,000 and continues to expand. The country’s newest university, the University of California Merced has recently opened. The addition of the University has spurred another era of growth as the city moves into the twenty-first century. Although agriculture remains a mainstay, technology is becoming a major force.
[by Herb Wood, Museum Registrar]


More Information

If you are interested in learning more about our rich historical heritage visit the Merced Courthouse Museum, housing 8500 square feet of exhibits depicting the history of Merced County. Located in the county courthouse built in 1875, one of the oldest historical buildings in California. Our museum is staffed by volunteers who devote their time into preserving and passing on the history of this great land to generations to come.