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With fields of grain, a nearby Tuolumne River for grain barges, and railroad traffic, the town grew.Irrigation water came from dams installed in the foothills, and irrigated fields of vegetables and fruit and nut trees flourished. During World War II, the area provided canned goods, powdered milk, and eggs for the US armed forces and Allied forces.The Modesto Census County Division, which includes the cities of Ceres and Riverbank, had a population of 312,842 as of 2010 Modesto is located in the Central Valley, 90 miles (140 km) north of Fresno, 40 miles (64 km) north of Merced, California, 92 miles (148 km) east of San Francisco, 68 miles (109 km) south of the state capital of Sacramento, 66 miles (106 km) west of Yosemite National Park, and 24 miles (39 km) south of Stockton.Modesto has been honored as a Tree City USA numerous times.
California State Route 108 connects to Oakdale, California and east to the foothills.At one time, Modesto was the operational center of the Tidewater Southern Railway, which had its main line down the center of Ninth Street, a major north-south street.A city ordinance passed by the city council kept electric power lines over this section of street activated long after the railroad had converted to steam power. Now the railroad (owned by the Union Pacific Railroad since 1983) no longer passes through Modesto.The airport is used for manufacturing and the shipping industries throughout California and the United States.Interstate 5 and California State Route 99 provide major highway access to Modesto.