Though the city was only officially incorporated in the first decade of the 20th century, Porterville's past stretches back to before the gold rush of the mid-1800s. The gold rush helped bring Porterville to prominence as 49ers passed through the land on their way to the gold fields and some, seeing promise of good farmland in the valley, decided to stay and make Porterville home. Agriculture continues to play a key role in both the economy and culture of the town and in surrounding Tulare County, with citrus fruit, including the Persian Lime which originated in Porterville, prominent among the area's many crop varieties. Several harvest festivals take place in fall in Tulare County to celebrate the region's agricultural heritage and the major roll it continues to play in feeding the country. Tulare County also hosts the World Ag Expo, which brings nearly 100,000 visitors to the county's International Agri-Center each year.

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Porterville lies in central California's San Joaquin Valley on the banks of Tule River, at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The town of 55,000 residents is rooted in farming and ranching, and as a result many large, multiple-acre tracts of land are available for purchase in and around town. The majority of homes in Porterville are sensible single-family houses, helping Porterville retain its small-town charm. The median home price is lower than in many areas of the country, and the cost of living is slightly below the national average, making Porterville a great place for newcomers to stretch their savings.

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