By Ellen Bell/Guest Columnist

The historic district known as Old Town Irvine was once the hub of the Irvine Ranch.

All important events and activities revolved around this 320-acre plot of land bordering the railroad tracks.

The main business on the Irvine Ranch in the late 1800s was the cultivation of dry crops, such as wheat and barley, which could be grown without irrigation.

The little town was born in 1887, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad gained the right to lay track across the Irvine Ranch. Before the railroad, farmers on the Irvine Ranch took their crops to Tustin for storage and shipment.

In 1889, the Irvine family hired prominent builders Newmark and Edwards to build a 30-by-100-foot warehouse that bordered on Central Avenue (now Sand Canyon Avenue) and the railroad line.

Three years later, James H. Irvine decided to set aside land for a small town to serve as a shipping center for his ranch.

By 1895, business was booming on the Irvine Ranch and another warehouse was needed. The new "San Joaquin Warehouse, Co." could hold almost 200 sacks of grain...