For those traveling on Highway 65, in Central California is the agricultural town of Porterville, California.
Part of Tulare County, the swampy town of Porterville was created as a stopping place founded by Peter Goodhue in 1854 for gold seekers. Some of those seeking gold established farms and established stores.
It was until Royal Porter Putnam came to the area in 1860 to raise his cattle, horses and hogs and bought the station and created a hotel called Porter Station. And the town of Porterville was founded in 1864.
Business began to boom in 1888 as the Southern Pacific Railway brought in their branch line through the area from Fresno and businessman from San Francisco would build the Pioneer Hotel and Bank.
The town would be incorporated in 1902 and miners moved to Porterville for Magnetite Ore.
While the town is known for campers visiting Lake Success and Eagle Mountain Casino, it has also gained reputation in recent years due to environmental issues as the majority of the city has run out of groundwater, due to the entire city relying heavily on private wells. It’s so bad in the city that some areas, locals need to be provided with bottled water and bathe in government-provided public showers.
But for those visiting the area, a popular location in the area is located at in North Park and the statue known as “Salute the Farmer” created by Dr. Kenneth H. Fox back in 1976 resides. The statue is made of granite and engraved on the plate are the words “In Gratitude for the Good Land”.
As I talked to locals about the statue, while the statue is appealing to long-time locals, younger generation of locals tell me it’s a Poke-Stop for their “Pokemon Go” video game and amusing stories of what people leave on the statue ranging from bras and panties, fast food and other things that many may have seen as an offering to the granite farmer.
For me, I look at the statue and I am impressed by its composition and expression. The farmer overlooking the soil, while sitting on his plow.
As agriculture is important to the Central Valley, this is perhaps one of the greatest tribute statues I have seen for farmers and it’s no doubt a significant statue for the city.
Locals told me that there was another statue called “Paul Bunyan Wooden statue” as part of the Paul Bunyan Inn but the woodsman statue has been moved to Three Rivers, California and resides at the Three Rivers Historical Museum.