When a lady named Eliza wrote the Department of Food and Agriculture in 1873 asking what she should plant at her new home in Southern California, an Orange Tree was sent to be be a test crop in the California Weather. The Oranges that made California’s economy flourish into what is called the Second Gold Rush is the Navel Oranges or “Washington Navels”. To this day, California plays a prominent role in the growing of Oranges. In the year 2015, it was estimated that California produced nearly 81 MILLION cartons of Washington Navels.
Interesting enough, the Navel Orange is also a mutation that was first found in 1820s in Brazil and it is said that California got its first Orange tree in the early 1870s from Brazil. The name Navel Oranges comes from the look of the Orange itself, the end of the Orange is said to resemble a human’s navel.It grows a second “twin” Orange that remains undeveloped but creates the look of a human navel! Next time you pick up a Navel Orange, you can see the Navel for yourself and the little bit of Orange that sadly didn’t make it.
The Navel Orange which is also known as the “Winter Orange” was ready for Eliza to harvest that Winter. Her Oranges won first place in the California Horticulture Fair! After the discovery of the Oranges in California and how delicious the Navel Orange was, Orange crops grew TREMENDOUSLY, becoming an extremely popular crop and was considered the birth the Second Gold Rush becoming the second biggest income for California! (Oil was the first)
In present day, one of Eliza’s original Orange Trees was transported by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 to the Mission Inn in Riverside, California; yes it was THAT big of a deal. But sadly, the parent orange tree didn’t survive and died around 1921. The good news is, just off Magnolia and Arlington Ave resides the Second Parent Navel Tree and is now considered a historical landmark. Isn’t that so cool? That Orange Tree is well over 100 YEARS OLD! And it’s just a 10 minute drive from The National Orange Show. The very first NOS Citrus Fair was in 1911 and it began as an idea to develop an exhibit where citrus growers could display their choicest fruit. Without the Second Gold Rush and the discovery of Orange crops in California, the National Orange Show would have never been what it is today!
SO next time you bite into a juicy Navel Orange, remember where it came from and how it came to be because it is the history of California’s Second Gold Rush.