History of Turlock The source of the name 'Turlock' remains unclear to this day. Originally Turlock was to be named 'Sierra' but with the potential for confusion with the mountains or county of the same name, 'Sierra' was abandoned. 'Turlock' may come from 'turlough,' an Irish dry lake.
Turlock was founded on December 22, 1871 by John William Mitchell, a prominent grain farmer who owned 100,000 acres of land from Keyes to Atwater (encompassing what is now the City of Turlock).
Described in the 1890's as a prosperous and busy town, Turlock consisted of three hotels, a restaurant, three general stores, a tin shop, a boot and shoe store, three livery stables, two blacksmith shops, a butcher shop, five warehouses and sixteen saloons.
Since the early 1900's, Turlock has experienced economic and agricultural growth and development. Various cultural groups began moving to Turlock, including the Assyrians, Chinese, Greek, Japanese, Mexican, Portuguese, Swedish and others. They brought with them farming and business skills, entrepreneurial ideas, capital and diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. The number of churches soared, reportedly resulting in Turlock being known years ago as having the largest number of churches for a city of its size in the United States. A Board of Trade (the predecessor to the Turlock Chamber of Commerce) was formed, along with a school district, newspaper, and major religious and civic organizations. The city experienced business development, including the founding of Medic Alert, one of the world's most successful nonprofit organizations, and the acquisition of California State University Stanislaus, which opened its doors in 1960.
Today, with a population of over 70,000, Turlock has achieved its early city planning goals of creating a safe environment, a strong school system and maintaining its hometown atmosphere. As the second largest city in Stanislaus County, Turlock has become economically sound and agriculturally elite and continues to seek growth and development that complements the city's business and industry and the needs of its residents.