Historic Packing Houses and Other Industrial Structures in Southern California

Virtual Tour of Los Angeles County: San Dimas

Copyright 2005 by William Messecar and James Lancaster.

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San Dimas (ATSF, PE)

San Dimas is located on the Santa Fe's Second District line serving Los Angeles to San Bernardino along the foothills. The San Jose Land Co. created San Dimas in 1887 when the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Railroad (later the Santa Fe) laid its tracks through the area. As in other communities lemon and orange citrus groves soon covered the area.

The San Dimas Lemon Association was incorporated in 1900 and built a packing house at the SW corner of Bonita and San Dimas Avenue north of the Santa Fe tracks. In 1908 it was renamed the San Dimas Orange Growers Ass'n packing house when a new lemon packing house was built on the NW corner of Bonita and Cataract Ave., also north of the Santa Fe mainline. An image and story of this lemon packing house can be found on the San Dimas history website along with a story of the San Dimas Citrus Industry.

Several parts of this packing house remain in use today as a mechanical repair facility. The packing house consisted of three structures, including a 100' by 300' packing building located next to the ATSF siding. This structure has been torn down and a smaller building erected for the repair company. The other two buildings are from the original packing house. One was for sorting and grading lemons and the other box making and storage of processed fruit. The first of these two is shown in the photo below.

William Messecar Photo

The other building is shown in two views (Photo-WM) (Photo-WM). All were taken from W. First Street on the north side of the property.

The Pacific Electric arrived in the early 1920s and the Randolph Marketing Co. packing house was built on the PE mainline west of Cataract Ave. The PE depot itself was located on the SW corner of N. San Dimas Ave. and W. Fourth St.

By 1925 a new and larger orange PH had been built on the NW corner of W. Bonita and Acacia on the south side of the ATSF mainline. The former orange packing house in San Dimas had been sold and renamed the Exchange Orange Products Co. producing marmalade. A new packing house - the Stewart Fruit Co. - was built across from the ATSF depot at W. Bonita and N. Depot. This packing house burned to the ground in 1933 and consumed the depot in the process (see the San Dimas history website).

A new stucco depot was built in 1934 and remained in use until closed in 1967. The depot has been preserved as a railroad and local history museum.

By 1930 only two packing houses remained in operation as the San Dimas Lemon Ass'n and San Dimas Orange Growers Ass'n. A good overall view looking west down Bonita Ave. can be seen in an aerial view taken in the 1920s.

The Santa Fe reported their packing houses shipped 481 cars of citrus in 1943 from San Dimas and 438 cars in 1944.

The last packing house was closed and dismantled in 1963, brought on by declining citrus quality and urban development.

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