How Far “Back” Was the “Back Country?”

“A Magnificent Exhibit From the Back Country” was the title of an article in The San Diego Union on October 6, 1892. The article was about an exhibit of produce mounted in the offices of the San Diego County Chamber of Commerce.

Described as “the best ever seen in the city,” the exhibit included hundreds of pounds and multiple varieties of fruits, vegetables, grain and flowers from all parts of the county, with the names and locations of the various growers who contributed to the exhibit.

There were individual pieces of produce notable for their size. W. C. Kimball of National City contributed three oranges, but as described in the article, they were whoppers: “total weight 72 ounces, the largest weighing 26 ounces and measuring 15 inches in circumference…”

T. W. Graham, of San Diego city, brought “two Hubbard squashes, 106 and 99 pounds.”

Then there were larger displays of bounty, like “400 pounds of grapes of different varieties” displayed by D. S. Sheldon of Dehesa, or the multiple boxes of apples of multiple varieties supplied by folks like D. B. Rockwood of San Pasqual, Maurice Reidy of Escondido and James Bonsall of, guess where? Bonsall!

Corn, barley, almonds, wheat, all manner of nature’s bounty was listed. What also stands out now are the names of the “back country” communities supplying this bounty. Some of them will be familiar to today’s readers, like Bonsall, Dehesa, and Julian. Others no longer exist, like Nellie, a name readers of this blog may recall from an earlier post.

Others might not strike today’s readers as being all that far back in the “back country.” Apples grapes and oranges came from Poway and Escondido, for example. Flowers and oranges were displayed from Nestor and Chollas Valley, two communities which are today neighborhoods within the San Diego city limits.

The Union article concluded that the three-day exhibit “was crowded….by admiring visitors to whom San Diego county’s ‘back country’ was a revelation.”

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