The railroad communities of Arcadia, Alta Loma, and Algoa, established in the 1890s, formed the nucleus of the Santa Fe area at the turn of the 20th century. Citrus and fig production, truck farming, and a burgeoning daily industry dominated the local economy at that time. Creameries operating at Alta Loma and Arcadia produced and shipped large amounts of butter and milk to markets in Galveston and Houston by 1912.
Dairy farming, unlike the citrus and fig industry, emerged as a major economic base in the area during the 1920s. According to local tradition they became so prevalent during this time that most everyone had one. Trucks had supplanted trains for transporting dairy products to markets in Galveston and Houston by this time. Local citizens recalled catching rides on milk trucks before community bus service was available.
Although able to recover from a crushing hoof and mouth epidemic in the mid-1920s, many small dairies were bought out by larger operations able to afford land leases for grazing purposes made necessary by stock laws of the 1930s restricting grazing on public lands. Though many dairies prospered with the introduction of automation in the 1950s the gradual loss of workers to higher paying urban jobs resulted in the closing of all Santa Fe area dairies in the 1970s.