Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of Orange County: Fullerton

Copyright 2002 by James E. Lancaster, Ph.D.

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Fullerton (ATSF, UP)

Unless otherwise indicated, the Fullerton photos were taken in June 2001 and early 2002.

Our tour of Fullerton starts just west of the former site of the Fullerton Union Pacific depot which was at the corner of W. Truslow Avenue and Harbor Blvd (formerly Spadra), a block and a half south of the Metrolink-BNSF (former ATSF) main line through Fullerton. At 201 W. Truslow we see the former Randolph Marketing Company packing house, also known as the Elephant Packing House.

James Lancaster Photo

Constructed by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1924, it is now a registered National Historic Landmark (Photo-JL). A virtual walk-around gives us several views of this classic packing house: the front (south side) of the building along W. Truslow (Photo-JL); the east end and backside (Photo-JL); and the west end and backside (Photo-JL). The loading doors (Photo-JL) opened on a Union Pacific siding, one of four UP tracks that were behind the packing house.

The City of Fullerton has a web site with additional information on the Elephant Packing House.

The next street north of Truslow is Walnut Avenue. It runs east-west between Truslow and the Metrolink-BNSF main line. There were at least eight packing houses along Walnut, clustered on either side of Harbor Blvd. Along the south side of Walnut, from west to east, were Fullerton Mutual Orange Association (1), Orangethorpe Citrus Association (2), Fullerton Cooperative Orange Association (3), and Placentia Pioneer Valencia Growers Association (4), all west of Harbor and served by the Santa Fe at the backs of the buildings. The Crystal Ice Company and Orange Belt Fruit Distributors (5) were east of Harbor and served by the UP (the address of the latter was actually 303 S. Pomona, i.e., at the corner of Walnut and Pomona). Along the north side of Walnut, from west to east, were American Fruit Growers Association (6) (also known as Blue Goose, it was west of Harbor), California Fruit Distributors (7) (also later operated as Granada Packing, it was directly opposite the Santa Fe station), and Evans Brothers Packing Company (8). The latter three packing houses were served by the Santa Fe from sidings along the main line.

The first two packing houses in the above list, Fullerton Mutual Orange Association and Orangethorpe Citrus Association, plus the Crystal Ice Company, are still standing. The Fullerton Mutual Orange Association packing house is now occupied by Orange County Produce. A walkaround of the building starts on the north side along West Walnut Avenue.

James Lancaster Photo

Continuing along Walnut we see the cull bin (Photo-JL) and a truck loading dock (Photo-JL). The back side was directly opposite the Elephant Packing House and was served by two Santa Fe sidings. Here we see the back of the truck loading dock (Photo-JL), the back of the packing house (with the Orangethorpe Citrus Association packing house in the background) (Photo-JL), the reefer loading doors (Photo-JL), and a close-up view of a loading door (Photo-JL).

According to Sanborn maps, the Orangethorpe Citrus Association occupied a building just east of the Fullerton Mutual Orange Association packing house. Here we see the Walnut Avenue side of a somewhat modern building at this location (Photo-JL) and the back side with its loading doors (Photo-JL). This newer building is evident in a 1963 aerial photo and is assumed to still be in operation as a packing house at that time.

This photo from the Fullerton Public Library shows the American Fruit Growers Association (Blue Goose) packing house in a view looking west across Harbor Blvd (Photo). (It is hoped to replace this image with a higher quality scan.)

There were two packing houses on the north side of the Santa Fe main line and west of Harbor Blvd: the Eadington Fruit Company (nearest Harbor) and the Fullerton Walnut Packing Company. Both have been torn down and replaced by the modern World Citrus West processing plant, seen here from the south side.

James Lancaster Photo

Additional views along the south side show stacks of field boxes (Photo-JL) and close-ups of the main building (Photo-JL) and adjacent equipment (Photo-JL). The entrance and truck loading dock are on the north side of the complex (Photo-JL). Over the loading dock are signs that say "Bluebird," "Donald Duck," "Florida's Natural" and "Texsun."

The only remaining building east of Harbor Blvd (other than the Santa Fe station) is the former Crystal Ice Company, now Calvary Chapel of Fullerton (Photo-JL).

The described locations of the different packing houses are based on Sanborn maps and an exhibit of mid-20th century photos of Fullerton put together by Larry Boerio and the Fullerton Model Railroad Historical Society (FMRHS). The FMRHS is constructing an HO scale model display of the area around the Fullerton Santa Fe depot, a display that will include several of the packing houses described here.

The FMRHS display includes several photos of the Sunny Hills Ranch packing house that was just west of Spadra Blvd north of Fullerton. The packing house was served by three railroads. The UP had a spur along the west side of the building, the Santa Fe on the north side and the PE on the east side.

This map is part of a larger railroad map of the Fullerton area published in "Rails Through the Orange Groves", Volume 1, by Donaldson and Myers. It clearly shows the spurs of the three railroads at the location named Bastanchury.

A somewhat fuzzy aerial photo from the FMRHS display shows the Sunny Hills Ranch with the packing house in the upper left of the image (dark building). The UP spur is at the left of the building, the PE at the right and the Santa Fe at the top. The entrance from Spadra Blvd is at the right of the photo.

This 1940 FMRHS display photo shows the entrance and the main office. Spadra Blvd is behind the photographer. A 1936 photo shows the UP side of the packing house and a PFE reefer. The PE is on the far side of the building and the Santa Fe is out of sight to the left.

The Sunny Hills photos originally came from the Fullerton Public Library. The images here are scans of photos of the library photos.

To tour other Orange County cities, or other counties, return to the Virtual Tour of Orange County Page.

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