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Heritage Park History

From Foothill Lemon Company est. 1911 to Heritage Park est. 2000


Corona and Early 
Citrus Production

 Corona was one of many cities founded on citrus agriculture near the turn of the century.


The cross-country railroad, ample land to farm, and early successes of the first growers initiated a "Citrus Boom" of the 1880s. The first citrus grove in the colony of South Riverside – which would later incorporate as Corona – was planted by Patrick Harrington. By 1888, the South Riverside Bee reported that 150 new acres had been planted. Corona’s first packing house was built in 1891. By 1912, there were 11 packing houses in Corona, CA with a combined floor space of more than 280,000 square feet.

EARLY 1900s

S.B. Hampton 


Samuel B. Hampton, a prominent businessman in Corona, CA began as a manager at St. Louis Fruit Company, which later became the Corona Lemon Company. With this experience and knowledge he recruited investors with a vision for choice land within the city limits of Corona for citrus growers.  He acknowledged the potential for Corona to expand further into a flourishing domestic growth area for United States citrus industry. 

EST. 1911

The Foothill Lemon Company

Early irrigation infrastructure successes via Temescal Water Company and ample agriculture land up for grabs, initiated the purchase of Foothill acreage just within city limits. The initial plantings of Foothill Groves encompassed 900 acres and employed a small workforce.

S.B. Hampton built a homestead in 1911 at the base of the foothills and, for a brief time, lived just off the land where citrus grew. That home, still standing, is the current location of the Performing Arts Empire, a local small business. 


Growth & Innovation

The Foothill footprint would expand to over 2,330 acres, the largest ranch in Corona, CA, Riverside County, and at times, the State of California.

During the 1929 Market Crash, Corona was minimally affected. Agriculture and homestead solutions proved valuable to citizens. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. 1938 Floods and a Great freeze of 1949 proved to be difficult. Innovative techniques to melt the snow and protect the trees were utilized via orchard heaters, or smudge pots


Workers & Community


By the mid-1930s The Foothill Lemon Company had 150 full-time employees and shipped three-quarters of a million boxes of fruit a year via train to areas throughout the United States.


WWII & Bracero Program


From 1941 until 1945, Corona’s citrus farming workforce was impacted – it was difficult to keep the groves running without sufficient labor. In 1942, The Mexican Farm Labor Program, informally known as the Bracero Program, was established. The program allowed Mexican laborers admittance to the USA for a limited time as seasonal agricultural workers to plant and harvest crops. The Bracero Program was considered such a success that it lasted until 1964. Around 4.5 million Mexican manual laborers legally entered the US during the years of the program.


Lemon Capital of the World

The Foothill Lemon Company was not alone in managing extensive citrus production within Corona, California. In 1953, combined with other citrus companies, a total of 3,391 carloads of fruit were packed and shipped from Corona - the largest harvest in the city's history.


In 1954, Corona was referred to as The Lemon Capital of the World. It was a 24/7 operation, and due to innovation from the Exchange Lemon Company, nothing went to waste. Lemons were railed locally and from Arizona for worldwide distribution of the fruit and its by-products.


Growth of Corona

By the late 1950's, increasing labor and irrigation costs, environmental issues related to pest control, foreign competition, and low produce prices were a few of the causes. More importantly, population growth and the demand for housing increased. Land dedicated to agriculture became far valuable for its potential as housing tracts.


The 1960s and 1970s saw the initial transitional development of agricultural land to housing tracts to build homes for a growing population. Many of the groves were sold to developers who built homes for the burgeoning population. 

1988 - 1990s

An End to the
Agricultural Era

Corona Foothill Lemon Company was the last active major citrus grower in the City of Corona, CA. It had absorbed major competitors such as Call, Jameson, and Verity. In 1988, the city of Corona adopted a General Plan amendment allowing the gradual conversion of agricultural acreage to other types of land uses. The Corona Land Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Foothill Properties, submitted plans to develop the Corona Foothill Ranch. After appropriate studies to identify potential environmental impacts and the measures to be taken to moderate those impacts, the plan was approved. Development of the groves by Foothill and others followed bringing an end to the agricultural era in Corona.

EST. 2000

Origin Story:
The Heritage Foundation

Corona Heritage Park and Museum is located on a portion of the original land purchased in 1911 where the Foothill Ranch complex was established. The Corona Heritage Foundation was founded by a dedicated group of volunteers and local Historians who had the foresight to preserve community heritage from being raised and becoming yet another subdivided housing track.


The founding President, Marla Benson, remains Executive Director of the Foundation and continues to oversee the nonprofits operations. 


Heritage Park Today

In the 23 years since CHP was founded, dedicated volunteers and on-site businesses have continued to make this place special. Corona Heritage Park is a Community-first and Heritage-always site.

Currently, there are 30+ regular volunteers who are dedicated to this non-profit and devoted to serving our community by preserving the past for future generations to enjoy, and by offering educational, and recreational opportunities.

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