Mexican War veteran Joseph Poole founded Isleton in 1874, and by 1880, he had added a drugstore, a harness shop, a hotel and livery stable, a landing and a wharf, and also served as the town’s postmaster. Isleton’s story is one of cyclical “boom-and-bust”, including a short-lived sugar beet processing plant. Once the Southern Railroad arrived, the town began to prosper with the arrival of the asparagus boom and the establishment of three large canneries during the 1920s and 1930s.
Asian cannery workers established their own residential sections of town. The Chinese section included gambling houses, a notions store and an Oriental School, while the Japanese area featured an eclectic mix of hotels, pool halls, fish markets, a laundry and an exhibit hall which attracted touring Kabuki groups and sumo wrestlers. The two distinct ethnic commercial districts share Isleton’s Main Street and in 1991, both were added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The large number of historical structures, as well as the architectural style of the buildings, adds to the historic value of Isleton’s unique multi-ethnic streetscape.