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The Peach Growing Industry of Catawba Island (with 2 pictures)

1913 text from reference (15) in the Bibliography

A seeming misnomer lurks in the appellation “Catawba,” as applied to the island when its surface was covered with vineyards - the Catawba grape figuring most prominently and suggesting the name, once appropriate; but having passed through an evolutionary period, the island is now transformed into a paradise of peach orchards, such as can be found in no other portion of Ohio. Few, indeed, are the vineyards found at the present date on Catawba. The few that still remain show many peach trees planted between the rows. When these come into bearing, the vines will be dug out.

J. W. Gamble and A. S. Reynolds each planted about 1000 peach trees on Catawba about thirty-five years ago, this being the first attempt there to raise peaches for market, and their neighbors called them “crazy.” The experiment worked so well, however, that hundreds of vineyards were subsequently uprooted to make room for peach trees.

J. W. Gamble had been engaged in orcharding for quite a number of years in Highland County, Ohio, previous to 1861 and left a fine peach orchard just coming into bearing to enlist in the 2nd  O. V. I., which was later engaged at the battle of “Bull's Run.” The two men above mentioned were the pioneers of peach culture on Catawba Island. 

The greater part of the arable land on Catawba Island is now planted in peach orchards.

Until the introduction of the Elberta the varieties mostly planted were Smock, and Salway; though a dozen or more varieties - early and late - were planted in limited area. Today, the Elberta has the lead, and comprises probably three-fourths of the trees now in bearing.

Probably the largest orchards on Catawba are owned by Mrs. W. H. Owens, Cal Brown, Geo. Rofkar, and Frank Lathem. Others - most of the growers in fact - have what may be termed large orchards.

Methods of cultivation are practically the same as with a crop of corn, the land being plowed and harrowed in the same manner, spring tooth harrows and cultivators being used.

An important part of cultivation consists in digging out the “borer,” spring and fall, or using some means to kill them in the root.

Spraying as a preventative of "San Jose" scale, and other parasitic diseases is regarded of great value. 

As to marketing, about one-third of the crop is shipped over the Fruit Company's docks, via Str. "Kirby," and other smaller boats, The other two-thirds are shipped from the railway stations - Port Clinton and Gypsum.

To the uninitiated, a ramble through the peach orchards of Catawba, in picking time, is a revelation.

By means of' “graders,” the peaches, when taken from the trees, are speedily separated into lots according to size. Bushel baskets are used for shipping the fruit, and most of the peach wagons are three deckers, drawn by double teams. The lineup of peach wagons at or near the fruit company's docks, is a sight to behold.

Still more formidable is the procession of Catawba peach wagons as noted on the streets of Gypsum, or Port Clinton - market centers - on an average busy day.

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Revised: 21 Jul 2008 06:55:00.

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