Citrus Industry: Packing Houses
A fortunate thing occurred as I started working on The
Citrus Industry section of this site. Gordon McClelland acquired photocopies
of rare, historic newpaper articles about the citrus industry. These
articles, given to him by local historian Tom Pulley, were compiled
by Tom and reflect his many years of research on the topic.
An overview about each packing house is provided in the sections below. Click/tap the thumbnail images to view larger images in a separate browser window or tab.
Source: Tom Pulley and ProQuest Historical Newspapers, Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986)
In spring 1926, officials reported 45 workers were employed and 125 carloads of oranges shipped. The plant implemented a new method of fruit packing to retain the fruit's solid shape and original flavor. Each fruit was first dipped into one solution to kill germs and then dipped into another solution to fill its pores.
On December 16, 1927 the firm's packing house and neighboring Olive Citrus Heights Association packing house were both destroyed by fire and rebuilt the following year. Olive Hillside Groves rebuilt its packing house of brick and concrete at the same site at 109 Canyon Way (the street names and addresses in Olive changed several times throughout the years).
In 1947, Olive Hillside Groves incorporated and its address was now listed as 8642 Santa Ana Canyon Road. Operations ceased around 1960, but the packing house structure still stands today, occupied by Merlex Stucco since 1963.
Some sources include: Tom Pulley, and Santa Ana Register
This company became one of the largest and most successful independent packing houses in Orange County from 1922 to 1926, shipping 612 carloads of fruit in 1922, 725 cars in 1923, and 992 cars in 1926. Miller purchased the former Anaheim Valencia Growers Association organization in 1926 and Olive Fruit Company soon operated from both facilities.
By 1930, the building in Olive no longer operated as a packing house, but was used the following year by Olive Heights Citrus Association for fruit coloring and storage.
On January 4, 1932, the packing house in Olive was destroyed by fire and would not be rebuilt.
In 1937, the company changed its name to Western Fruit Growers, Inc. and sold its Anaheim packing house to Krinard Packing Company of Riverside.
Sources: Tom Pulley, and Orange Daily News
During the first year of this packing house's operations, 40 cars of citrus fruit were shipped. By 1926, that number had increased to 490 cars.
In December 1927, both Olive Heights Citrus Association and Olive Hillside Groves packing houses burned down and were rebuilt the following year. Olive Heights Citrus Association purchased a parcel of land across the street on the opposite of the railroad tracks. In June 1928 its new concrete packing house opened at 104 Canyon Way, the second largest in Orange County. This new packing house employed 50 female workers and utilized the latest machinery and equipment.
By 1930, 918 cars of oranges were shipped from this facility, and at the end of May 1931 the shipping estimate was set at 1000 cars.
The following month, Olive Heights Citrus Association began using its newly built precooling plant that utilized a new method to help fruit retain its flavor. In this process, fruit was pre-cooled to 36 degrees within a day-and-a-half prior to being loaded into refrigerator cars for transportation to the East coast.
NOTE: The precooling plant can be seen in the 1960s photo by clicking/tapping the thumbnail image at left. The plant is identified by its two-story, tower-like structure located towards the right rear in this photo.
Olive Heights Citrus Association was the last citrus packing house to remain in Olive, closing its operations at this plant in 1984 after merging with the Olive Heights Citrus Association plant in Corona. In December 1988 fire gutted the building in Olive, and the structure was razed in 1997.
Some sources include: The
California Citrograph (circa 1915 article courtesy of Gordon McClelland),
Olive Heights Citrus Association was
a long-standing member of the Orange County Fruit Exchange, the latter
which organized on November 13, 1893.
Lawrence Kokx packed Valencia oranges under the "KOKX Broadcasting" label, and also packed fresh cabbage, tomatoes, sweet corn, and bell peppers.
Early in 1948, the plant reported 12 to 45 employees working at the packing house year round. In an advertisement that ran in the Santa Ana Register on May 25, 1948, the firm announced 1770 car loads of produce were shipped in the prior year and proclaimed to be "Orange County's Largest Produce Shipper."
In March 1951, the firm was reportedly one of the largest independent packing houses in Orange County, employing 30 workers year round. In 1953 and 1955, more than 1500 cars of fruit and vegetables were shipped.
On April 7, 1955, the packing house and nearby refrigerator cars were damaged by fire.
The packing house ceased operations in 1958, and the structure still remains standing, occupied by Merlex Stucco and "Vero" from 2001 until Merlex Stucco's acquisition by Parex USA in 2016.
Some sources include: Tom Pulley, Santa Ana Register, Orange Daily News, and Fullerton News Tribune
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