October 27, 2012

Mammoth Orange stand now ready to roll

The iconic Mammoth Orange stand is scheduled to make a move at 10 a.m. today from the city of Chowchilla's Public Works Yard to the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County.

A trailer is scheduled to pull the 10-foot-high, metal-and-stucco citrus replica for a distance of about seven miles, from the North First Street and Kings Avenue yard to the center at 19450 Avenue 21½, according to Lori Pond, president of San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation.

Back in June, the Chowchilla City Council awarded the bid for the historic Mammoth Orange to the foundation. Pond said the group plans on engaging in a public campaign to restore the Mammoth Orange and use it as a concession sand.

Pond said the Mammoth Orange could be fully restored by next summer. "We're going to keep the historic look as close as possible to the way it was on (Highway) 99," Pond said.

The Mammoth Orange is one of the last vestiges of roadside architecture once common along Western highways -- enormous limes, lemons and oranges where travelers could stop for an icy citrus drink.

"The orange stand represents an older part of our culture. It's very Americana," Pond said.

It's one of the only surviving remnants of a string of citrus-replica franchises that used to flourish along Highway 99 from Tracy to Bakersfield. Newspaper clippings date the Highway 99 franchises from the 1920s, when Frank E. Pohl opened his first giant orange in Tracy.

In the 1940s and 1950s, other huge oranges, lemons and limes proliferated along highways from California to Arkansas. They faded from the scene with the advent of fast food chains and automobile air conditioning, and the development of limited-access freeways.

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