Citrus played a prominent role in Mesa's history. Along the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks near Creamery Road (present-day Broadway) sat a packing house for citrus. C.H. McKellips' plant washed and waxed citrus fruit before it shipped across the country. Buiilt in 1934 at a cost of approximately $35,000. A year after McKellips' plant opened the Mesa Citrus Growers Association built a packing plant at Country Club and Broadway. Both plants marketed their products through the California Fruit Growers' Exchange, which is known as Sunkist. The Mesa Citrus Growers plant closed in 2010 and is now a shadow of Mesa's once large and powerful citrus farming. 

Supporting the farming endeavor were processing operations, as well as ancillary industries, such as ice manufacturing. Before electric freezers and refrigerators, only ice kept food cold. In Arizona, the extensive heat required farmers to use ice to be successful. An ice plant was was built in Mesa in the 1890s and had rail lines connecting the plant to farmers. This allowed more farmers easy access to ice. 178 local farmers and businessmen came together in the early 1900s. They built the Mesa Dairy & Ice Company in 1903. 


As Mesa grew, so to did its cultural infrastructure. On the corner of Morris and Main in Mesa, sat Vance Auditorium. Rancher John T Vance built the entertainment hall in 1908. However, the hall did not become popular until The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) bought the property in 1926 when it became the Mezona. The hall hosted political speeches, concerts, movies, dances, roller derbies, and countless events. Unfortunately, the Mezona closed in 1971 and was eventually demolished.

Images

Mesa Citrus Growers Association
Mesa Citrus Growers Association Employees post in front of the citrus plant in 1935. Source: Mesa Preservation Foundation Date: 1935
Sun Kissed
Sun Kissed The Mesa Citrus Growers Association marketed its products through the the California Fruit Growers' Exchange, a cooperative of more than 6,000 fruit growers in Arizona and California. In 1907 the California Fruit Growers' Exchange began marketing its fruit under the Sunkist brand.
Mesa Dairy & Ice
Mesa Dairy & Ice Early in the twentieth century,, before the age of electric refrigeration, local farmers banded together to build the Mesa Dairy & Ice Company. Source: Mesa Preservation Foundation Date: 1903
The Mezona
The Mezona Built in 1908 as the Vance Auditorium, this entertainment venue took on a new identity when it was purchased by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1926. The Mesa" and Arizona (Mezona) Ballroom thrived for half a century as a dance hall and local gathering place for social, cultural, and political events. It closed in 1971, and the building was demolished. Source: Mesa Preservation Society Date: 1941
O. C. Stapley Hardware
O. C. Stapley Hardware Orley Seymour Stapley opened his first hardware store in Mesa in 1895. He would supply hardware to the Roosevelt Dam and become a franchisee and dealer of International Harvester farm equipment. Source: Mesa Preservation Foundation Date: ca. 1905
Zedo Ishikawa
Zedo Ishikawa A very young Zedo Ishikawa rides with his father taking a load of fresh produce to packing sheds south of downtown. A number of Japanese immigrant families like the Ishikawas, Ikedas, Okazakis, and Motoyoshis settled in and around Mesa in the early 1900s. Many engaged in “truck” farming – growing a variety of fruits and vegetables. In 1932, as a high-school student, Ishikawa died in a backyard gun accident. Prior to his death, he is reputed to have told his football coach and fellow players to "carry on," which eventually became the motto of Mesa High School. Source: Mesa Preservation Foundation Date: ca. 1918

Location

Metadata

Mesa Preservation Foundation et al., “Country Club Station,” Salt River Stories, accessed July 21, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/108.