by Trish Johnson,
President of Orange Cove
Here it is 2014 and after 100 years of existence, both the City of Orange Cove and the Orange Cove Women’s Club will be celebrating its centennial. Three service organizations met collectively to plan a special event entitled “BACK IN TIME: A 100 YEARS OF MEMORIES,” which will take place on May 31. The Orange Cove Women’s Club, the Orange Cove Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Orange Cove American Legion have been working diligently to plan a celebration for the people of Orange Cove. With the help of several local packing houses acting as sponsors, these three entities were able to plan this back in time event.
Six years ago, the Orange Cove Women’s Club decided to investigate the history of Orange Cove. Many of the photos and information came from the descendants of families that first settled here. The Pasadena Track which is East of Orange Cove was the site in 1905 of early plantings of citrus crops. Many growers used dynamite to blast open the hard pan so the trees could be successfully grown. This area was found to be a temperate zone and eventually seen to be “frost free.”Mr. E.M. Sheridan is considered the Father of the town of Orange Cove. He and his partners formed the Orosi Orange Land Company in 1912. They purchase 6000 acres of grain land located 25 miles north of Visalia and about 33 miles Southeast of Fresno. The land sold in 10 and 20 acre tracts at $100.00 and $200.00 per acre on very easy terms. This “frost free” land was almost sold by the end of 1913. On September 1, 1914 the first passenger coach of railroad officials came to Orange Cove and then train service began on October 11, 1914. On the second anniversary of the founding of Orange Cove, a large celebration was held with a Ferris wheel in which 2000 people attended.
A first edition of a local newspaper was published. Buildings in the town included a post office, a shoe repair shop, a newspaper office, and the Orange Cove Lumber Company. Power lines began to be seen. The Orange Cove Chamber of Commerce was also founded in 1916.
The Orange Cove Women’s Club was formed in 1914. Mrs. George Dundas was the first President of 16 women. One of their early programs was to help others in need and this later developed into a “well baby clinic” that served the community for years. During World War I, the Red Cross was organized in town. Pictured below are some of ladies from the Women’s Club who made bandages for the War effort.
The Women’s Club did not meet from 1917-1919 but resumed again in 1922 and affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs .The first mention of the American Legion Hall as the place for meetings was 1927. Previously, meetings were held in member’s homes.
After the depression and drought of the thirties, the population of Orange Cove area grew. In 1937 the Orange Cove Irrigation District was formed. Folks were moving here from Oklahoma to farm. In 1940, the first feed store opened. There were 91 members of the Orange Cove Women’s Club in 1939. In 1941, everyone was very concerned about World War II. Women were encouraged to sign up for war work, to become informed about civilian defense and to participate in the air raid practices. After the war, in 1947 work began on the Friant-Kern Canal in order to bring water to the area. The Canal was completed in 1950. Around this time, Robb Smith M.D. began a medical practice. The city of Orange Cove became incorporated in 1948 and had their first police department and City Hall. In 1950, an elementary school opened and was named after Mr. Sheridan.
With the support from 13 other clubs the Orange Cove Women’s Club successfully built a community swimming pool, which took five years to raise the necessary $25,000 for construction Completion of the pool was in 1964 and tennis courts soon followed with completion in 1973.
Today Orange Cove still faces many obstacles but its people are tenacious and many individuals remain loyal to this community. But 100 years of existence is something to celebrate.
The special event celebrating these 100 years will be taking place at the Orange Cove Community Center on May 31, 2014. Cocktail hour from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dinner will begin at 7 and will include a roast beef dinner with peach cobbler for dessert. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Your ticket also gets put into a drawing for two nights at the El Dorado in Reno, Nevada. There will be an auction and raffle. Some of the items included are a quilt, baskets with books from local authors, a basket of homemade jam, “Pamper Yourself in Orange Cove” basket, antique pictures, leather goods, gift certificates and much more. The Orange Cove High School choir will be performing. A Dixieland band will also be performing for a fun evening of enjoyable listening and dance music.
The basket of books from local authors will include mysteries by Lorie Ham, Cora Ramos, Sunny Frazier, Bonnie Hearn Hill, and Marilyn Meredith, and vampire and supernatural novels by James Garcia Jr.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to such things as scholarships for graduating Orange Cove High School students, sober graduation for Orange Cove High graduating seniors, support to the Orange Cove Volunteer Fire Department, Boys and Girls Club, Our Veterans and many other causes.
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time by contacting club members Gail Dahl at (559) 393-1854 or Trish Johnson at (559) 285-0662.