Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of San Bernardino County: Upland

Copyright 2005, 2006, 2009 by William Messecar and James Lancaster.

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Upland (ATSF, PE)

Upland is located on the former Santa Fe's Second District main line running between Los Angeles and San Bernardino via Pasadena. The town of Upland was settled in the mid 1880's and a railroad line built in the late 1880's by the Southern California Railway--which was then absorbed by the ATSF in 1906. The stucco depot built by the Santa Fe in 1937--the third depot of this site--and the packing houses were generally located along Stowel St. (formerly Park St.) and "A" Street east of Euclid Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

Sanborn maps for Upland and Ontario from 1907, 1912, 1928 and 1950 have been used to trace development of the Upland packing house industry. There were a group of wooden packing houses built right around the turn of the century that disappeared by the 1920s and 30s. They were:
- Independent Ass'n PH - later the Growers Fruit Co. on First and A St.
- Stewart Citrus Ass'n - on A St. between 1St and 2nd St.
- California Citrus Union on A St.-2nd Ave. and Stowel and 3rd. Closed by 1912
- Strachan Fruit Co. - later Hanson & Searles and G A Hanson on Stowel between 2nd & 3rd St.
- Fay Fruit Co. - on Stowel between 1St. and 2nd Ave.

The American Fruit Growers combined the Growers Fruit Co. and Stewart Citrus Ass'n packing house at A St. between 1st and 2nd. This large wooden structure was gone by the year 2002

A second group of packing houses were built shortly after 1900 but remained in use until closed in the 1960s to 198's. In fact Upland became a center for packing fruit as other PHs closed in the La Verne to Claremont area. The Mountain View Warehouse was built in the early 1900s on the SW corner of 3rd and Stowel across the tracks from the Santa Fe depot. Renamed the Mountain View Orange and Lemon Growers Ass'n by the First World War and later the Mountain View Fruit Ass'n in the 1920s, the packing house is still standing although in other use. The photo below, taken from the NW corner of the former Mountain View Fruit Ass'n PH, shows the rail loading side which was served by both the Santa Fe and Pacific Electric.

William Messecar Photo

Compare the view with an earler photo of PFE and SFRD reefers spotted for loading (Photo - source and date unknown).

The next views are from the SE corner (Photo-WM) along S 3rd Ave. and the NE corner (Photo-WM) of 3rd and Stowel. Evidence of the Santa Fe spur still remains along the north side (Stowel Ave.). The final view (Photo-WM) shows the packing house office located on the SE corner of Stowel and S. 2nd Ave. This office contained the packing house records as well as a large safe for guarding the payroll.

A very large packing house - the Upland Lemon Growers PH no. 2 - was located on the SE corner of Stowel and Sultana. This PH was torn down prior to the year 2000. The PE spur left the PE north-south mainline in the center of Euclid Ave. to travel east down the middle of Stowel to the two PHs.

The Upland Lemon Growers Ass'n PH was built in the early 1900s and expanded to its present size within 10 years. The first view (Photo-WM) was taken along A St. and shows the six loading doors used to place boxed fruit into refrigerator cars on a spur from the Santa Fe mainline. Compare that recent (2002) photo with a 1979 photo by Lowell Amrine showing two GP30s and two mechanical reefers (Photo-LA). The next view (Photo-WM) on 5th St. shows the NE corner, including cull bins for lemons which will be turned into juice. The third view (Photo-WM) along 4th St. shows the truck shipping docks. At the time of the photos the building was in use producing custom windows. The Upland Citrus Ass'n PH is shown in this view (Photo-WM) taken on the SW corner of N 3rd Ave. and A St. It's presently in use as a manufacturer of Oak furniture. Both PHs were served by an elevated spur off the west bound ATSF mainline and by a PE spur. The PE line came south on 5th St. to join the ATSF spur on A St. The west side of the Upland Lemon Growers Assn packing house is shown in the background of the photo below—note the ATSF trackage along the south side of the PH. The office of the Upland Lemon Growers Assn is seen in the foreground. Photo was taken in the early 1960s.

upland lemon
First American Title Collection

Two other PHs were served by the ATSF located west of Euclid Ave. next to the mainline. The Euclid Ave. Orange Ass¹n was south of the ATSF mainline on Euclid Ave. This view (Photo-WM) shows the NE corner of the PH and a sample of the Pure Gold crate label used there. Cliff Prather provided a (Photo-CP) of the bulk orange loader at the packing house. The other PH on the north side of the ATSF main was the Upland Heights Orange Ass¹n. It was torn down prior to 2002.

The Upland-Cucamonga Citrus Exchange was built in 1937 to house the marketing arm of the regional citrus producers. The building today houses the Cooper Regional History Museum and is located on A St. directly across from the former ATSF Upland depot (Photo-WM).

A spur known as the Upland-Foothill spur branched north off the Santa Fe mainline 1.3 miles east of the depot. This spur traveled north to 19th street where the Cucamonga-Mesa packinghouse was located (Photo). The packing house is now the home of Week's Roses (Photo-JL)

In 1945 both the Santa Fe and Pacific Electric served Upland. The Santa Fe served six packing houses and two jointly with the PE. Citrus shipped in 1943 was 1,684 cars and 2,403 cars in 1944. This was the busiest citrus location on the Santa Fe Second District.

Cliff Prather has provided a photo of the eastbound Santa Fe Second District local switching two SFRD ice reefers at the La Verne Coop Citrus Ass'n packing house in Upland. The power is two ALCo RSDs (4s or 5s) that came west from the New Mexico, Texas and Colorado area to work their last days. In May 1968, when this photo was taken, the Santa Fe ran day locals between LA and San Bernardino in both directions via the Second District (Monday - Saturday or was it Friday). Eastbound pickups would run in the evening when the railroad handled large amounts of citrus. The car on the outside of the packing house's dock is a PFE reefer spotted by the SP at the jointly served shed. The SP route was the former Pacific Electic¹s San Bernardino line with a spur in the center of Euclid Ave. At one time the PE used the Santa Fe track that the local is on to reach another packing house behind the photographer (Upland Lemon House No. 2). 

Cliff Prather photo.

The photo below shows the the La Verne Coop Citrus Ass'n from the opposite side as Cliff Prather's photo. The PH was used by the La Verne Coop starting in 1959 when they closed their PH in La Verne.

laverne coop First American Title Collection

The Foothill Citrus Union packing house was located between Upland and Claremont. In his softcover book "Citrus Roots ... Our Legacy," Volume II (2004), Richard H. Barker wrote "The Foothill Citrus Union was organized in 1922 and was affiliated with the Mutual Orange Distributors (Pure Gold) to serve Claremont, Upland, Ontario and adjoining areas. The facility handled orange and grapefruit for about 275 acres. It was located on the east side of Central Avenue and south of the AT & SF tracks. They shipped about 75 to 85 railcars [a year]. ... They closed in the early 50s."

Cliff Prather photographed what remained of the Foothill Citrus Union packing house on November 23, 1980.

Cliff Prather Photo.

Otto Kroutil had photographed the same remaining wall of the packing house a year earlier. Bob Chaparro referred to it as a "shallow relief packing house." Model railroaders will understand the reference.

Otto Kroutil photo.

Gallery of Additional Cliff Prather Photos

December 2009

Office of the Euclid Avenue Orange Assn., November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Euclid Avenue Orange Assn., November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Euclid Avenue Orange Assn., November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

La Verne Coop Citrus Assn., November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Office of the La Verne Coop Citrus Assn., November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Upland Mutual Groves packing house, November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Upland Citrus Assn., November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Upland Lemon Growers Assn., November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Lemon Growers Assn. No. 1, November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Upland Lemon Growers Assn. No. 2, November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

Upland Lemon Growers Assn. Office, November 1980. (Cliff Prather photo)

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Page last updated on December 13, 2009.