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Stanislaus County, California
County of Stanislaus
Modesto Arch.JPG
KnightsFerryGS.jpg TuolomneRiverWaterfordCA.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: Modesto Arch, Knights Ferry's General Store, a view of the Tuolumne River from Waterford
Official seal of Stanislaus County, California
Motto: "Striving to be the best!"
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
Region San Joaquin Valley
Incorporated April 1, 1854
Named for Estanislao
 • Total 1,515 sq mi (3,920 km2)
 • Land 1,495 sq mi (3,870 km2)
 • Water 20 sq mi (100 km2)
Highest elevation 3,807 ft (1,160 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)
 • Total 514,453
 • Estimate (2015) 538,388
 • Density 339.57/sq mi (131.11/km2)
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Area code 209
FIPS code 06-099
GNIS feature ID 277314

Stanislaus County (/ˈstænslɔːs/ or /ˈstænslɔː/) is a county located in the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 514,453. The county seat is Modesto.

Stanislaus County comprises the Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The first European to see it was Gabriel Moraga in 1806. It was later named Rio Estanislao in honor of Estanislao, a mission-educated renegade Native American chief who led a band of Native Americans in a series of battles against Mexican troops until finally being defeated by General Mariano Vallejo in 1826. Estanislao was his baptismal name, the Spanish version of Stanislaus (Polish: Stanisław), itself the Latin version of the name of an 11th-century Polish Catholic Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.

Between 1843 and 1846, when California was a province of independent Mexico, five Mexican land grants totaling 113,135 acres (458 km2; 177 sq mi) were granted in Stanislaus County. Rancho Orestimba y Las Garzas, Rancho Pescadero and Rancho Del Puerto were located on the west side of the San Joaquin River, and Rancho Del Rio Estanislao and Rancho Thompson on the north side of the Stanislaus River. Additionally, in 1844 Salomon Pico received a Mexican land grant of 58,000 acres (235 km2; 91 sq mi) in the San Joaquin Valley, somewhere near the Stanislaus River and the San Joaquin River in what is now Stanislaus County. However, the grant was never confirmed by the Land Commission.

Stanislaus County was formed from part of Tuolumne County in 1854. The county seat was first situated at Adamsville, then moved to Empire in November, La Grange in December, and Knights Ferry in 1862, and was definitely fixed at the present location in Modesto in 1871.

As the price of housing has increased in the San Francisco Bay Area, many people who work in the southern reaches of the Bay Area have opted for the longer commute and moved to Stanislaus County for the relatively affordable housing.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,515 square miles (3,920 km2), of which 1,495 square miles (3,870 km2) is land and 20 square miles (52 km2) (1.3%) is water.

Stanislaus County has historically been divided socially and economically by the north-flowing San Joaquin River, which provided a natural barrier to trade and travel for much of the county's history. Isolated from the main rail corridors through the county and the irrigation projects that generated much of the region's economic prosperity, the part of Stanislaus County west of the river (known to locals as the "West Side" of the county) has largely remained rural and economically dependent on agricultural activities. Because of its proximity to Interstate 5 and the California Aqueduct some towns within this area, including Patterson and Newman, have experienced tremendous growth and are being transformed into bedroom communities for commuters from the nearby San Francisco Bay Area, while others (including Westley and Crows Landing) have been almost entirely overlooked by development and remain tiny farming communities.

Flora and fauna

There are a number or rare and endangered species found in Stanislaus County. The Beaked Clarkia, (Clarkia rostrata), is listed as a candidate for the Federal Endangered Species List. It has only been found in blue oak-gray pine associations in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a habitat which occurs at moderately high elevations. Colusa Grass, (Neostapfsia colusana) is listed as endangered by the State. It is restricted to vernal pools. (Torrey, 1989)

National protected area

  • San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge (part)


Major highways

Public transportation

  • Stanislaus Regional Transit (StaRT) provides fixed route and dial-a-ride service throughout the county. StaRT also connects with Merced County Transit in Gustine and Turlock.
  • Modesto Area Express (MAX) operates within Modesto, with limited service to Salida, Empire, and Ceres. MAX also runs special commuter routes connecting with the BART and Altamont Commuter Express rail systems.
  • The cities of Ceres, Oakdale, Riverbank, and Turlock run small local bus systems.
  • Both Greyhound and Amtrak have stops in Modesto and Turlock. Amtrak for Turlock actually stops in Denair.


Modesto City-County Airport has a number of scheduled passenger flights. Other (general aviation) airports around the county include Oakdale Airport, Patterson Airport, and Turlock Airpark.



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 2,245
1870 6,499 189.5%
1880 8,751 34.7%
1890 10,040 14.7%
1900 9,550 −4.9%
1910 22,522 135.8%
1920 43,557 93.4%
1930 56,641 30.0%
1940 74,866 32.2%
1950 127,231 69.9%
1960 157,294 23.6%
1970 194,506 23.7%
1980 265,900 36.7%
1990 370,522 39.3%
2000 446,997 20.6%
2010 514,453 15.1%
Est. 2015 538,388 4.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2015

The 2010 United States Census reported that Stanislaus County had a population of 514,453. The racial makeup of Stanislaus County was 337,342 (65.6%) White, 14,721 (2.9%) African American, 5,902 (1.1%) Native American, 26,090 (5.1%) Asian (1.5% Indian, 1.1% Filipino, 0.7% Cambodian, 0.5% Chinese, 0.3% Vietnamese, 0.3% Laotian, 0.1% Japanese, 0.1% Korean, 0.1% Cambodian), 3,401 (0.7%) Pacific Islander, 99,210 (19.3%) from other races, and 27,787 (5.4%) from two or more races; Hispanic or Latino of any race were 215,658 persons (41.9%); 37.6% of Stanislaus County is Mexican, 0.6% Puerto Rican, 0.5% Salvadoran, 0.2% Nicaraguan, and 0.2% Guatemalan.

(Note - the US Census Bureau says "Hispanics may be of any race, so also are included in applicable race categories", which means Hispanics are counted twice; once in whatever race they report, once as Hispanic. That in turn means the numbers will add up to be 215,658 (the number of Hispanics) higher than the 514,453 total population.)


As of the census of 2000, there were 446,997 people, 145,146 households, and 109,585 families residing in the county. The population density was 299 people per square mile (116/km²). There were 150,807 housing units at an average density of 101 per square mile (39/km²). The racial/ethnic makeup of the county was 69.3% White, 2.6% Black, 4.2% Asian, 1.3% Native American, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 16.8% from other races, and 5.4% from two or more races. 31.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.4% were of German, 6.3% English, 6.0% American, 5.5% Irish, and 5.1% Portuguese ancestry according to Census 2000. 67.8% spoke English, 23.7% Spanish, 1.5% Syriac, and 1.3% Portuguese as their first language.

There were 145,146 households out of which 41.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.0% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03 and the average family size was 3.47.

In the county, the population was spread out with 31.1% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,101, and the median income for a family was $44,703. Males had a median income of $36,969 versus $26,595 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,913. About 12.3% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.

Metropolitan Statistical Area

The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Stanislaus County as the Modesto, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States Census Bureau ranked the Modesto, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 103rd most populous metropolitan statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.

The Office of Management and Budget has further designated the Modesto, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area as a component of the more extensive Modesto-Merced, CA Combined Statistical Area, the 62nd most populous combined statistical area and the 71st most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.

As more cities in the county are becoming exurbs of the San Francisco Bay Area, urban planner and academic Wendell Cox wrote that the Office of Management and Budget could add Stanislaus County to the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area in the future.

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