Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of Riverside County: Riverside

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

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Riverside (ATSF, SP, UP)

The National Orange Company Sunkist packing house, built in 1898, was said to be the oldest, continuously operating packing house in the US. The building was on the east side of Commerce Street at 6th Street and faced the Santa Fe main line through Riverside, about two blocks north of the station. Two Santa Fe sidings came along the east side of Commerce Street directly in front of the building, shown here as it appeared in 2000.


James Lancaster Photo

This next photo shows the structures on the immediate south side of the building shown in the previous photo (Photo-JL). The tan building on the left was also part of National Orange. The building on the right was at one time (1939) Westbrook Company, a furniture and hardware business. The rear of the packing house was served by the SP Riverside Branch. You can still see the tracks in the street (Photo-JL).

This January 1975 photo by John Signor provides a slightly different view of the front of the National Orange packing house (Photo-JS). John Signor photo, used by permission.

Unfortunately, the National Orange Company packing house was destroyed by fire in 2001.

The Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) web site (see below), contains additional information about the National Orange Company packing house, including this color photo of the front of the building (Photo-HH). The following HABS/HAER elevation drawings show three sides of the building: (1) the west (front) side as it appeared in 1906 when it was known as the Rubidoux Fruit Company (Drawing-HH); (2) the west side as it appeared in 1991 (Drawing-HH); (3) the north side as it appeared in 1991 (Drawing-HH); and the east (back) side as it appeared in 1991 (Drawing-HH). The next drawing shows a plan view of the complex with the east (back) side of the packing house and five SP tracks at the top, and the west (front) side and two ATSF tracks at the bottom (Drawing-HH), followed by a plan view of the interior of the building complex (Drawing-HH), a larger plan view of the machinery in the packing house (Drawing-HH), and a description of the orange packing process (Text-HH). The color photo was taken in 1991 by Brian Grogan. The source of the elevation drawings is not identified but additional information about the National Orange Company packing house, including an extensive history and more color photos, is available from the Library of Congress HABS/HAER web site (National Orange Company Data Set).

The HABS/HAER web site also contains a west-to-east cross section drawing from the Santa Fe depot to the National Orange packing house (Drawing-HH) as well as a plan view drawing of the commercial district around the National Orange packing house (Drawing-Large Version-HH) (Drawing-Small Version-HH). The drawings represent the year 1939. The source of the drawings is not specifically identified but additional information is available from the Library of Congress HABS/HAER web site (Arlington Heights Citrus Landscape Data Set).

There were other interesting industrial buildings in Riverside along Commerce Street between 3rd and 7th Streets. The building across 6th street to the north was at one time Lerner's Riverside Grain Milling Company (Photo-JL). This building at 4th Street was at one time used for kerosene storage by Standard Oil (Photo-JL). All of the buildings were served by rail at one time.


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

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