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Serving Loomis & All Surrounding Areas
Serving Loomis & All Surrounding Areas
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Loomis, California, was a major player in Placer County’s fruit-growing industry in the 1900s. From 1901 to 1970, the western end of the county was full of fruit orchards. During summer, farmers would pick their peaches, plums, and pears and bring them to one of several packing sheds along Taylor Road (historic Highway 40), which paralleled the Union Pacific train tracks. After being sized, sorted, and packed, the fruit would be shipped to the Midwest and the East in rail cars kept cold with ice. From there, fruit could be shipped overseas to Europe, Hong Kong, and Japan. Loomis was considered the second-largest fruit-shipping center in Placer County, with adjacent Newcastle deemed the largest.
One of these packing stations, the Blue Goose Packing Shed, built in 1945, offered a brand-new feature: mechanical refrigeration created by ammonia gas and compressors. An optical sizer, an innovative new way to size fruit, was added in 1967. These new features contributed greatly to the success of Loomis’s fruit-packing industry.
When the fruit shed closed its doors in 2002, the non-profit South Placer Heritage Foundation took over. It rebuilt the dock area, improved accessibility, upgraded rain gutters and drain pipes, and installed a fire sprinkler system throughout the 26,000-square-foot space. In the summer of 2004, a small army of volunteers descended on the barn-sized structure to make major modifications. General contractors, electricians, painters, and sheet-rock installers transformed the northern 10,000-square-foot portion. Volunteer hours and in-kind materials valued at over $350,000 turned the shed into an event center that retains the historic look of the old facility yet is modern enough to host gatherings for 400+ guests. Other tenants include Blue Goose Produce, which sells produce from local farmers, the Loomis News, Sarah Whitcomb Antiques, and artisan chocolatier The Chocolate Moose. Future plans include renovating the second story to create a museum demonstrating the story of Placer County’s fruit-growing history.
A second fruit packing shed in Loomis has similarly repurposed itself. The High Hand Fruit Shed, which was built by the Loomis Fruit Growers Association in 1926, employed about 100 workers during the peak of harvest season. The employees packed and shipped local, “mountain-grown” fruit under the High-Hand label. The renovated building now includes space for several independent store owners who sell antiques, candles, art, flowers, olive oil, pottery, rugs, jewelry, iron décor, and more. Several wineries offer winetasting. Adjacent is a nursery and open-air café. The shed’s history is still evident in the ambiance and on the posts and rafters, where High-Hand workers carved their names many years ago.
Loomis tutors and teachers can help their students get a good grasp of local history by suggesting a visit to these historical fruit sheds. In fact, Loomis tutors can meet their customers in one of these renovated fruit sheds—a unique environment for learning a slice of California history.
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