Modeling Southern California's Citrus  Industry in S-Scale


Sierra Eagle Packers

Hillmaid, California   

 Prototype photographs by Jim Lancaster unless  noted otherwise

The Sierra Eagle packing house is located along the old Santa Fe Porterville-Orosi District at milepost 31.2, Hillmaid, in California's San Joaquin Valley.  The Santa Fe turned this line over to the San Joaquin Valley Railway (Kyle) in 1992 and the last train passed through Hillmaid in 1994. 
The Santa Fe spur ran along the east side of the building.  The Visalia Electric crossed the Santa fe from left to right in the foreground.  This location was known as East Red Bank on the Visalia Electric.  Using satellite photos, I have calculated that the entire structure is about 440 feet long.  That works out to just under 7' if built to scale.  Since the objective was to build a reasonable representation, and not an exact model, the length was reduced by about 20%.

This concrete addition is on the south end of the complex.  Originally, I thought the center section above the covered walkway between the buildings was covered by board and batten siding.  Now, I'm not so sure..   It looks like corrugated metal siding when this photo was taken in 2006.  I haven't been able to find a picture from the 1950's so who knows what it actually looked like 60 years ago. 

North Elevation

I decided to start with the north wall.  Based upon the 2006  photo above, it looks like the north wall once had windows across the top like the rest of the north facing "saw-tooth" walls.  Initially, this wall was built without the full set of windows.  Then, I decided to cut down the wall and add the full sized windows.   4 Grandtline windows were glued together, framed in styrene, and added to the top of  the wall.  The main part of the wall is Northeastern board and batten scribed wood glued to a styrene core. 
Regardless of size or location, all citrus packing houses cleaned, sorted, graded and boxed the fruit.  Culls, not suitable for packing, were used for juice or frozen juice concentrate.  In the picture to the right, you can see the culls in the third bin from the left waiting for shipment by truck.

The back side or "field" side of the complex.  Field boxes are stacked up to six high on the right.  Field boxes are bought in from the surrounding orchards on flat bed trucks and unloaded with forklifts.

Basic construction techniques were covered on the previous page (National Orange Company) so there is no reason to go over them again.  The north end of the building is complete with the exception of the window panels on the saw-tooth roof walls (waiting for parts) and the roof.  The back side includes a ground level entry door, a window, and some ground level sliding warehouse doors.

11/08 - The second section, shown in the middle of this picture is done, with the exception of the roof, and permanently glued to the "saw-tooth" section.  This section was a little bit more complex than originally planned.  Windows and a "lean to" section were added when I decided to model the back side.  Good progress has also been made on the third phase.  Some assumptions had to be made about what the building may have looked like in the mid 50's,    At this point, the structure is about 4 feet long and about 12" deep. 

It took to nights to build and attach the covered loading dock.  Both the dock and the roof sections were built and then attached to the wall with nuts and bolts instead of glue.  The steel roof supports were made from styrene rod.  They are held in place by tubing built into the roof and gravity. They are not attached to the dock.

11/15 - Over the week-end I finished up the back side of the  third (right side) section.  This section housed the final sizing and and box making machinery.   Up through the mid 1950's citrus was packed in wooden crates.  After that, cardboard cartons were used.  The two elevated loading doors on the right are for receiving Shook, the raw material for making the wood crates, and/or cardboard cartons. 

12/5 - After a wait of about 2-weeks, I finally got the rest of windows I needed to finish off the "saw-tooth" roof on the north end of the building.  Then I ran out of .060" styrene.   I should be able to finish it off tonight.  In the meantime, I spent some time developing a proto-freelanced concept for a freelanced S-Scale model railroad based upon the citrus industry in California's San Joaquin Valley; the Sacramento & San Joaquin (a subsidiary of the Western Pacific between Stockton and Bakersfield,. CA)

12/13 - The last part of the prototype packing house was a tilt up concrete addition on the south end.  With only two pictures to work with, both from southeast, this portion fits right in with the rest of the structure; a reasonable representation of the prototype.  It is being built from two discontinued HO Scale models.

12/13 - Here are all three section lined up on my "work" desk.  (I finally cleaned it up!)  The structure measure 65" long not including the dock that will be added to the south (concrete tilt up) end and the cull bins that need to be added to the north end.  That works out to be about 340 scale feet versus a prototype length of about 440 feet.  This structure, even in three parts, is to large for my spray booth so paint will have to wait for better weather.  Eventually, there will be 10 car spots, 6 on the east side (shown) and 4 on the back side.