California Citrus State Historic Park
1870 Jackson St., Riverside, 92504.
Much of this 377 acre park is covered with citrus groves and a free tasting tour is led by volunteer rangers several times a day. The museum features exhibits, movies and artifacts educating the public on the citrus industry. Park admittance is free, but a $5 parking permit must be purchased. It is a wonderful family-friendly experience. Take a picnic lunch.
Meetings Held 1st and 3rd Tuesday, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
1420 Santo Domingo Ave, Duarte, CA 91010
Click link to view Calendar of Meetings and Additional Events
California Citrus State Historic Park
A one hour drive to Riverside will take you to the California Citrus State Historic Park where the family can enjoy a hike among the endless thick citrus groves for a unique tasting experience. The park entrance features an old fashioned roadside fruit stand in the shape of an orange – a nostalgic memory for many.
The 377 acre park boasts a lovely picnic area, trails winding through the many groves and an interpretive museum where visitors can learn how oranges came to Riverside County, a story that reflects our own Duarte citrus history. During the late 1800s Duarte farmers realized that the essentially frost-free climate belt and fertile soil at the top third of the old Rancho de Duarte was responsible for the fact that our local citrus trees produced oranges larger, more perfectly formed, juicier and sweeter than any place else in California. These conditions attracted pioneers from near and far to Duarte, much like during the gold rush.
Oranges were first grown in California in the late 1700s, brought from Mexico by the Spanish colonists. In the beginning, oranges were grown mainly for local consumption. When the railroad linked Southern California with the rest of the nation an eastern citrus-free market resulted in a boom for our local growers causing a rapid influx of new settlers who recognized the agricultural promise of riches.
The first citrus-growers faced many challenges in this fledgling industry such as how to pack, ship, identify and advertise a perishable product for customers hundreds of miles away. Among the many innovative results was replacing the baskets and barrels with rectangular shaped boxes that could be easily handled and packed in railroad cars. Although the first of these boxes were labeled by branded trademarks or stenciled images, they were superseded by large paper labels designed to rapidly catch the attention of prospective purchasers. These posters developed in the 1880s and 1890s in the hands of artists and graphic designers and are coveted today by collectors. Most early labels are rare, reflecting a graphic form of American commercial art.
The Duarte Historical Society & Museum’s Citrus Room has on display a few dozen such labels. One label, the St. Patrick’s Brand, is from the original Mt. Olivet Ranch in Duarte and is sold at the Museum as a postcard.
Duarte’s oranges became famous and in 1890 won first prize at the State Citrus Fair for the “finest specimens of Washington Navel Oranges.” Oranges from Duarte also enjoyed premium prizes in National competitions.
Duartean Everett Adams grew up on Duarte’s Baird Ranch where his father supervised the crews that harvested the orange groves. He remembers that during the war, German prisoners of war were brought to the ranch to pick the fruit.
Trekking through the shady groves at the Citrus State Park, one could imagine how our local ranches looked and smelled. Ripe fruit covered the grounds, and boughs hung low weighted by the golden fruit. Often the ranger would cut branches, tear off the fruit, and hand it out for our tasting. Some were sweet, some sour, some divine and a few inedible. There are several varieties of mandarin and navel oranges, kumquats, many types of limes, grapefruit, and the strangest of all: the fingerling lime.
The park is located at 1879 Jackson Street, Riverside and is open all year, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a $5 charge for a parking permit but no entrance fee. The museum offers exhibits, displays, a movie and identification of many varieties of citrus fruit. Fruit tasting tours are led by volunteer docents several times a day and are free. A gift shop features citrus-related gifts. Food is not sold in the park, but the picnic area is lovely.
Duarte Historical Society & Museum
777 Encanto Parkway
Duarte, CA 91010
Phone: (626) 357-9419
Send Mail to: P.O. Box 263, Duarte, CA 91009