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California Citrus State Historic Park, Riverside, California

Updated on September 29, 2014

California Citrus State Historic Park is a real orange grove

Imagine that one day, all the orange groves in California will be gone. In 1873, the three trees sent to Eliza Tibbets started the second gold rush where oranges made Riverside, California the city with the highest per capita income in 1900. Oranges were king and lots of people got rich.

Today, the orange groves have all but disappeared. The State of California has mandated that the groves at the California Citrus State Historic Park be working groves. Water prices and the demand for homes has made the groves all but extinct. Where once were miles and miles of groves they are now few and far between. The heady fragrance of the orange blossoms will be only a memory.

The Orange Stand on the Corner of the park is past history. With the addition of air-conditioning in automobiles, the stands were no longer necessary to slack the thirst of travelers.

Visitor's Center and Museum

Eliza Tibbetts - Sorry about the flash. It says the "perfect crop".

In 1873, Eliza Tibbets received 3 navel orange trees from the Department of Agriculture in Washington DC. The navels came from Bahia, Brazil and the Department of Agriculture was trying to see where they would grow best. They found a home in Riverside where they thrived. Riverside had the perfect soil and temperature for the navel oranges.

Two of the trees survived. One is till living on the corner of Arlington and Magnolia in downtown Riverside. It is kept alive by grafting new rootstock. The 2nd tree was moved to the Mission Inn in 1903 and was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt but that tree did not survive.

The Parent Tree

This site has more information and pictures of the parent tree.

Second Gold Rush

Buddha's Hand

Fingered Citron

One if not the earliest form of citrus, the Fingered Citron came from China. Since it has no juice, it is grated to make the spice Citron. The park has two of these trees.

In some cultures, it is traditional to break off fingers and give them to others for good luck.

Orange groves and Palm trees - with a few Eucalyptus trees thrown in.

Southern California is loaded with palm trees. I haven't tested it but I think that if you look in any direction, you might be able to see a Palm tree. They are not native, they came from China. What makes them important is that they were used to line the roads so people in the 1800's could find their way around. There were no street signs and so people used them as landmarks. The Palms in the California Citrus State Historic Park are over 100 years old. The Eucalyptus trees are also tall and may have been used as landmarks also.

This is the view from the Sunkist Center looking north towards Big Bear.

The perfect spot for a wedding

The Gazebo sits in front of the Sunkist Center. It is the perfect setting for a wedding and as a docent, I had the pleasure of watching many. When the roses are in bloom, it is truly beautiful and could be a place that you find only in fairy tales.

The Sunkist Center

The Sunkist Center is a large community area with a kitchen and great for events. Many of the wedding receptions are held there as well as Park functions. The views are spectacular.

The early growers were called the California Citrus Growers Association. In 1900, it was changed to Sunkist.

Random pictures from our homeschooling field trip

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Part of the school tour is the tasting. The park has a varietal grove with many citrus species so it is always a treat to see what they will share.In the 1900s, parks did not have play structures but there was plenty of room to roam.More space.It was a nice day to throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch.Display inside the museum. This is the inside of the store.Outside of the store display.Kids taking the tour of the varietal grove.More park to enjoy.Smudge pot and lighter. In the old days, these were filled with low-grade diesel and set on fire to keep the frost from destroying the oranges.
Part of the school tour is the tasting. The park has a varietal grove with many citrus species so it is always a treat to see what they will share.
Part of the school tour is the tasting. The park has a varietal grove with many citrus species so it is always a treat to see what they will share.
In the 1900s, parks did not have play structures but there was plenty of room to roam.
In the 1900s, parks did not have play structures but there was plenty of room to roam.
More space.
More space.
It was a nice day to throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch.
It was a nice day to throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Display inside the museum. This is the inside of the store.
Display inside the museum. This is the inside of the store.
Outside of the store display.
Outside of the store display.
Kids taking the tour of the varietal grove.
Kids taking the tour of the varietal grove.
More park to enjoy.
More park to enjoy.
Smudge pot and lighter. In the old days, these were filled with low-grade diesel and set on fire to keep the frost from destroying the oranges.
Smudge pot and lighter. In the old days, these were filled with low-grade diesel and set on fire to keep the frost from destroying the oranges.

If you grow your own oranges, you will need a juicer

Hamilton Beach 67650H Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor
Hamilton Beach 67650H Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor

A juicer makes orange juice a quick and easy process.

 

Where is California Citrus State Historic Park?

The map is a little tricky. The little flag is not the entrance to the park. Where is says California Citrus State Historic Park is actually the boundary and where it says State of California is the actual entrance. It is on Duifferin, off of Van Buren, and there are signs so it's really not tricky once you are there. .

A marker9400 Dufferin Ave. Riverside, CA 92504 -
9400 Dufferin Ave. Riverside, CA 92504
get directions

California Citrus SHP

It is my park. That's what my grandson calls it because I was a docent there for three years. I did the tours and he ran the whole park with his grandfather. It is one of my favorite places to go and we try to go in the spring when the trees are in bloom. It is heavenly.

These photos were taken on Jan 30, 2012 with out homeschooling group on a field trip. Many thanks to the Ferguson's and Ranger McDonald for the warm welcome and very well done tour of the museum, the trip thorough the varietal grove and the tasting. Our kids really appreciated it.

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    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 2 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Such an interesting tour of your Citrus park in Riverside, CA. My college roommate lives in Riverside and I've visited the area a couple of times. I'll have to share this page with her to see if she's ever visited the park.

      The only thing I remember about the California orange groves is that Disneyland was built on the site of one of them. :)

    • Ann Hinds profile image
      Author

      Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal

      I had totally forgotten about Disneyland but then most of Orange and Riverside counties were orange groves. Send your friend to check it out.

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      I've never been to this park, though I've lived in this state all my life. I'm glad they made the effort to preserve it, though it's kind of sad that that's all that remains. In my area, there were cherry orchards. There's even a cherry festival. But, you won't find many cherry trees except in people's back yards.

    • Ann Hinds profile image
      Author

      Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal

      We have an apricot festival too but I have never seen an apricot in my area. Maybe I should plant one. It is sad but land prices are too high and water is expensive. I miss the orange groves that used to go for miles.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 2 years ago from La Verne, CA

      The City of La Verne has a very small working grove at Heritage Park. When in season anyone can pick a bag full of oranges for $5.00. All other traces of orange groves are gone, except hidden items and houses.

    • Ann Hinds profile image
      Author

      Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal

      I haven't been to Heritage Park so the next time I'm up that way, I'll check it out.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      I have never been to the park, but found your hub interesting. It's a shame the oranges are gone. I have a new tree in my yard that can withstand colder temperatures. We still have plenty of oranges and lemons. Merry Christmas

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