According to greatamericanstations.com, Denair takes its name from a Santa Fe Railway employee who owned land in the area; along with neighboring Turlock, it prospered as an agricultural community in the 20th century.
- “Denair is located at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the region was explored by Spaniards from the coast such as Gabriel Moraga. Early travelers encountered bands of the Yokut American Indians, and the valley was not settled by European-Americans until the 1820s. After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, much of the land in southern and central California was broken up into large estates that were often doled out to the friends of those in power. Although isolated from populated coastal areas due to the mountain ranges, the valley was used for grazing. The Gold Rush of 1849 attracted adventures to California from the eastern and Midwestern United States. Many dreams of gold came to naught but settlers remained in the west and built lives. Subsequently, many of the Yokut were driven off their land and onto designated reservations.“
Celebrating Denair Schools by Trevor Cordova
Denair by James Shehan
Rancher John T. Davis first established Davis Ranch in 1871, but it would be over 30 years before the land was declared the town of Denair. Tucked away in the San Joaquin Valley, this small oasis offered an abundance of fertile land and water, as well as close proximity to the expanding railroad. Originally considered the townsite of Elmwood, it was renamed Denair on April 14, 1907, for John Denair, a Santa Fe railroad man and land developer who had purchased 9,000 acres in the area. Over the next 100 years, the settlement of Denair slowly grew. Businesses came and went. Families and farms appeared and then disappeared like shifting sands, only to be replaced by others years later. In Denair, nothing ends–it just changes. – Arcadia Publishing – October 2015