Citrus Industry Heritage
The town's founders initially named their development South Riverside after the successful citrus community of Riverside, just a few miles away. Almost all of the new settlers planted orange and lemon trees in hopes of gaining future profits. New groves continued to spring up and by 1912 there were 5,000 acres of established lemon and orange groves.
The local economy thrived because of trees bearing mainly oranges and lemons. Thousands of acres bore citrus fruit. When trees were blossoming, the air was perfumed with a sweet fragrance that could be detected for many miles around. Citrus was Corona’s main attraction and focal point for almost 80 years. Growing, packing, and processing citrus was Corona’s main industry. Newcomers had discovered a successful business venture and a healthy lifestyle in the sunshine in the new community.
According to Dr. Jose Alamillo, “At one point, Corona planted over 7,500 acres of citrus fruit (lemons, oranges, grapefruit, limes and tangerines) in seven ranches, and processed over 30,000 cases of fruit daily through a dozen packinghouses and a lemon by-products factory, and employed over 80% of the total city population.
There is a comprehensive lexicon of terms that have special meaning to the citrus industry, those who worked in it and those who lived in close proximity to it: the picker’s bag of canvas and leather, citrus clippers, sizing rings, field boxes, fumigation pots, smudge pots, packing houses where fruit was washed, sorted, and prepared to be packed into wooden fruit crates with unique crate labels for each packing house, are just some of these terms.
Some noteworthy images of Corona citrus labels can be viewed below:
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Although Corona was once the “lemon capital of the world,” Most of the areas once covered by citrus groves have been replaced by houses. By the late 1970s the increased costs of irrigation, labor, pest control, environmentally friendly anti-freeze measures, taxes,and other factors made the land dedicated to citrus agriculture of less value than if it were developed in another manner.