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Early Salinas

The City of Salinas is named for the broad saltwater slough that once seeped in from Monterey Bay, saturating this plain between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountains. Originally used as range land for cattle, a town developed from a stage stop after the Gold Rush, and the drained land produced grain and other crops. After World War I, immensely profitable large-scale lettuce, broccoli, and artichoke production, known as “green gold,” made Salinas one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. Isolated from its neighbors by mountains on both sides, early Salinas seemed a world unto itself, and its residents, both humble and wealthy, and the seemingly infinite green rows that surrounded it, provided similarly endless inspiration to novelist John Steinbeck, who recorded life here in the first half of the 20th century and imbued it with meaning.