Grove Where Citrus War Started Now Dying

Ate at El Pollo Fino over the weekend with Cynthia Ward, head of the Anaheim Historical Society and a longtime reader. Over bites of the best charbroiled chicken in Orange County not cooked at The Surfin' Chicken, Ward informed me of a terrible development: the orange grove on Santa Ana and Helena streets in Anaheim is dying.

This orchard is part of the original grove where the 1936 Citrus War began and is a minor miracle considering it's been continually harvested decades after that area became housing and factories. Ward says the family that owns the grove planned to keep it going as long as possible, but the trees have fallen to the ravages of Quick Decline, the vicious virus that felled hundreds of thousands of orange trees during the 1950s and spurred the transformation of this county from Paradise to a put-up parking lot. The destruction of the trees is inevitable; Progress will reign anew. Coming on the heels of the Swanner Ranch's demise, that's another part of our heritage gone–and, for lovers of history, a bitter blow.

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