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Modesto is the seat of Stanislaus County southeast of San Francisco, between Stockton and Merced. It lies along Highway 99 on the banks of the Tuolumne River, near the Modesto Reservoir and Turlock Lake.

In 1870, the new one-mile-square town of Modesto (Spanish for "modest") sprang up in anticipation of its advent as the Central Pacific Railroad terminus.

Today Modesto, population 182,700, is one of the country's fastest-growing cities and the hub of a farming and fruit-growing region. The city hosts a variety of supporting industries that process, can, freeze and ship produce and other products. Points of interest include the McHenry Museum, housing a survey of Modesto and Stanislaus County life ways through the mid-1900s; and the Lucas Plaza Statue, dedicated to film director/producer George Lucas whose film, American Graffiti, was inspired by his life as a teenager here. Tuolumne River Regional Park is nearby.

Modesto is part of the Modesto, California metro area.

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