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Trainload of Oranges

Nothing unusual about a trainload of oranges because these days there are also planes carrying freight loads of oranges all over the world. However, if this happened to be the very first bunch of oranges that were grown in southern California in the U.S. to be shipped out by the transcontinental railroad from Los Angeles then that was something to get excited about. The first time that the rest of the U.S. states got the chance to enjoy oranges grown in California was on February 14, 1886. Guess you could say that it was sort of like a Valentine’s Day present.

In 1781 the Spanish had established the city of Los Angeles as one of the oldest cities in the Far West to help colonize the region. At one time this city became the largest center of population in Mexican California. Finally, in 1848 Los Angeles was part of the parcel when the U.S. gained control of California. Suddenly Anglo-Americans started to assert their control over California and in the process broke up the large Hispanic ranches, replacing them with a more diversified farming economy. Once irrigation was developed it appeared that southern California had an ideal climate for growing oranges. Soon all kinds of people started taking the trip out toward the Pacific Ocean where the sunny climate and the lovely scenery beckoned.

Soon orange orchards were in abundance in California and grew in abundance all around Los Angeles. Finally with the transcontinental railroad came the chance for orchard owners to ship their oranges to the East. Soon orange orchards started spreading out into other regions like Orange County. To make sure that there was plenty of irrigation Los Angeles residents took up a massive program of hydraulic engineering in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Engineers realized that water could be taken from the surrounding mountains transforming southern California’s arid ecosystem into a green and lush paradise.

When the first trainload of oranges departed for the East coast the city of Los Angeles had only 11,183 inhabitants but a decade later the population had grown to 102,479 residents. Los Angeles was well on its way to becoming the largest urban center in the American West by 1920 when it had over half a million residents. It makes one wonder what they would have done with all those oranges and no way to get them to the East or to get people to easily travel to the West.

  • Question of

    Do you like oranges?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Do you eat oranges regularly?

    • Yes
    • No

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