Mesa holds rich citrus history, weather was huge help

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

If you drive by Broadway and Country Club roads in Mesa you have likely seen this faded Sunkist logo on an old brick building.

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"It doesn't take long; it's changed so fast," state historian Marshall Trimble said, talking about the change in a growing city.

These days, a small team from Autoline Industries manufactures custom auto parts in the Sunkist building that was a major hub for everything citrus in Mesa and the state.

[20 Cities in 20 Days: Mesa combines rich history with plans for bright future]

“There would have been huge tables; crates. You'd have packers in here, packing the oranges in here,” Trimble said of the old days in the packing facility.

At one point in the 1990s, more than 1 million crates a year were moving out of here, making Mesa one of the citrus-packing epicenters in the nation next to Florida and California.

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Trimble says 50 years ago, you couldn't avoid citrus orchards in Mesa.

"This whole place was citrus groves, way down there, way out there, everywhere you looked it was citrus groves," Trimble said.

Our weather lack of hard freezes made the Valley an ideal place to grow oranges, grapefruit and lemons.

But something that grew even faster ended up bringing the industry to a halt.

“One thing caused it to drop off,” Trimble said. “One thing and one thing only. Urbanization"

Homes took the place of the orchards. But in the basement of the old Sunkist packing plant and around Mesa, there are still memories of its rich citrus past.

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Ian SchwartzAn Arizona native, born and raised in Mesa, and graduate of Arizona State University, Ian Schwartz is thrilled to be back in the Valley of the Sun.

Click to learn more about Ian.

Ian Schwartz
Wake Up Meteorologist

After starting his journalism career in Illinois, Ian worked in Albuquerque and later Sacramento. In the field as a reporter, he has covered flash floods, blizzards, tornadoes, wildfires, drought and just about everything the weather can offer. After spending some time reporting, Ian decided to further his education and completed Mississippi State's broadcast meteorology program. Ian loves everything about Arizona weather from winter storms in the north to the monsoon in the south. When Ian isn't giving you the forecast in the morning, you can find him hiking, traveling and exploring everything our great state has to offer. If you have any weather pictures or want to say hi, drop him an email or connect online.

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