History of Cross Orchards Historic Site
About Cross Orchards
Cross Orchards is the site of many events during the year.
Today’s 24 acre site, once part of a 243 acre fruit ranch, was operated as an agricultural show case by the Massachusetts-based Red Cross Land and Fruit Company, 1896-1923. With more than 22,000 trees, it was one of the largest in the state when most local orchards averaged nine acres. Most of the fruit ranch was planted in apples, but a few acres of pears and peaches were also grown. Primary apple varieties of the day included Black Twig, Gano, Jonathan, Winesap, Rome Beauty, and Ben Davis.
During peak periods of pruning, picking and packing, the Red Cross Land and Fruit Company often employed more than 50 part-time workers. Most were local citizens who commuted from town or would set up camp for several weeks during the fall harvest. Included in the restored bunkhouse are the kitchen, pantry and cook’s quarters on the west end; the men’s quarters and dining room in the middle; and the carriage room and office on the east end. The large barn/packing shed and bunkhouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since the Museum acquired the original 4.3 acres containing the historic structures in1980, the site has added many additional acres and several ancillary exhibits. The Swanson display contains household effects, farmyard equipment, and an amazing assortment of horse-drawn implements and tools. It encompasses the Swanson Family’s move from Sweden in 1885 to operation of their 40 acre farm south of Loma.
Rail fans will delight in the Uintah Railway exhibit and the recreated train depot. The reconstructed Whiskey Creek Trestle is part of a display of cars, an engine and caboose. From 1904-1939, the Uintah ran from Mack, Colorado to Dragon, Utah. It hauled one of the world’s few commercial sources of gilsonite, a black, lustrous asphalt. Members of the Grand Valley Model Railroaders have displays of HO scale trains representing historic rail lines that ran through Western Colorado. Related Link: National Railroad Historical Society, Rio Grande Chapter.
The Wallace “Boots” Corn Collection of vintage road building and related equipment is also housed at Cross Orchards. With more than 60 pieces, this diverse collection includes horse-drawn scrapers, graders and wagons in addition to steam, gasoline, and diesel-powered equipment. “Boots” established the Corn Construction Company following World War II.