The "Gage" Canal, Riverside Ca.
Limited-Edition Print of 350 (13x19) signed and numbered by the Artist.
By the early 1900s, Riverside Ca. (my home town) was one of the largest Orange producing communities in the country, being the birth place of the "Navel" Orange. The "Gage" Canal (seen here) was built between 1885 and 1889 by Matthew Gage, a Canadian jeweler. He filed a claim for 640 acres under the Desert Land Act of 1877. In order to gain title, Gage had three years to bring water to the land. He built the 11.91-mile-long canal to bring water to this area from the Santa Ana River and later extended it another 8.22 miles through Citrus Park to its terminus. The canal doubled citrus production in Riverside.
Today, 90% of the orange groves in Riverside have vanished to make room for housing developments. Those of us old time residents can clearly remember the wonderful smell of the Orange blossoms in the Springtime. In the Wintertime we heard the sounds of old airplane engines spinning propellers to blow air over the trees keeping them from freezing, as well as those smelly "Smug Pots" that would create clouds of sooty haze that would waft through the adjoining neighborhoods. However, the fragrant smell of those Springtime blossoms would surely make for any Wintertime nuisances. Nothing takes me back to my childhood faster than the sweet smell of the Orange Blossoms.
We lived next door to a family of "Pickers" and every week we were treated with bags full of Navel oranges that were to big to be sold in stores. I remember some of those oranges being bigger than my head. They were so sweet and juicy and they made the best pitcher of juice you could ever hope to have...
I still take my dog for a walk down the canal on lazy afternoons, savoring that sweet smell and listening to the birds happily singing and flirting between the trees. In a city that has grown to more than 600,000 people in my lifetime, those walks down the canal are still a place of solace and memories...
This is a scene I painted from one of those walks, it's done in transparent acrylics on Illustration board. Can you smell the trees?