History Happened Here

A campaign commemorating Florida's diverse cities.
Brought to you by the Florida League of Cities.


Orange County

Year Founded: 1887


Originally the site of a Seminole Indian trading post on the south shore of Lake Apopka, Oakland was founded by wealthy farmers from South Carolina searching for better farmlands. Tales of the rich soil, mostly frost-free, soon brought others and, in 1860, there were enough people to warrant the establishment of a post office. The town continued to grow rapidly, becoming the crossroads for two railroads that took local farm produce to northern markets. In 1887, the town was incorporated.

Soon Oakland became not only a thriving agricultural community, but also the social center for miles around with its opera house (The Union Club), hotels, schools, many churches, a bank and a country club. Everything changed in the 1890s and early 1900s with a series of disasters that involved a killing freeze followed by a fire that destroyed almost all of the business district, bankruptcy of the larger railroad (removing its shops and personnel), and closure of the bank in 1928, sounding the death knell for Oakland’s bright future.

Today, Oakland is again a small town, inhabited by descendants of the early families. Many of these individuals are still involved with citrus. Plus, Oakland is a growing “bedroom community” of folks who work in nearby cities but prefer to live and rear their children in a quieter environment.

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