People traveled via different routes to California: the land routes, including the Oregon Trail; traveled via ship to Panama, across the narrow land bridge or isthmus, to board a second ship to travel north; or shipboard around Cape Horn, South America. Most early immigrants came looking for opportunity or a mild climate, just as they do today. The Gold Rush spurred immigration to California and moved the United States government to admit California as a state in record time.
The state’s largest and most important city was San Francisco. Artist William R. Hutton described the city in this manner: “It was a rough-and-tumble community of adobes, shanties, and frame buildings scattered along Yerba Buena Cove. But
following the discovery of gold at Coloma in January, the village was transformed into a vigorous cosmopolitan city. By late 1851 it had a population of some thirty thousand, streets lined with solid brick edifices, and one of the busiest ports in the nation.”
The Transcontinental railroad, completed in 1869, greatly facilitated travel for people and goods. The Moulton Ranch shipped wool by rail to Boston. The center of present-day Orange County was Santa Ana. The Ranch conducted much business there with Santa Ana Grain & Milling Co. and Santa Ana Meat Company.
Charlotte Moulton, recalling history recounted by her father and others, said, “The year 1874 in El Toro found the Serranos still owning and occupying the eleven thousand acre ranch which had been granted to them by the Mexican Government, and which eventually came into the possession of Dwight Whiting. Rancho Niguel had been granted by Juan B. Alvarado, Mexican Governor of California, to Juan Avila and his sister Concepcion, widow of a certain Pedro Sanchez, on June 21, 1842. From them it passed, sometimes in its entirety, other times in parcels, through many hands, among them the Yorbas, but by 1874 the greater portion of it was owned by Cyrus B. Rawson, from whom father eventually bought it. Jonathan E. Bacon had also come into possession of sixteen hundred acres of it.”