Sunday, May 12, 2013

No Popcorn Popping on Grandpa William's Apricot Trees

While we were down south over spring break last month, we made our annual spring trip to Capitol Reef National Park.  I love it down there.  I remember going there with my parents and family often, on dates in high school, with college friends, and now with my little family of course.  So, while I sat in the car with a super onery teething baby Kenna, my mom and other kiddos took the traditional walk through one of the apricot orchards.  I love it when we time it in bloom!

But more than just loving it because I have so many fun memories down there, I love it because my ancestors farmed the land down there for a few generations until the National Park Service bought them out.  Before it was Capitol Reef National Park, it was a small little Mormon community called Fruita.  The history books say that there were never more than a dozen or 15 families that lived there at one time.  My great grandparents, William and Dicey Chesnut were one of those families.  They bought pasture and orchard land in 1925 in Fruita.

That land eventually ended up as my Grandpa Jay Chesnut's land.  It was sold to the government in 1962.

These photos of my kids are right next to Loop C of the campground.  3 and half acres of what was my great grandfather William's orchard was cleared in order to make Loop C  of the campground in the 1980s.

In this online book,, I found this information:

Current Name: Chesnut Orchard
Other Name(s): Upper Chesnut Orchard
Location: Approximately 1.5 miles from the visitor center between the Fremont River and the Loop C Campground.
Acres Cultivated: 
Orchard 2.8
Number of Trees: 129

Historical Documentation:

Originally part of the Nels Johnson homestead, Johnson's descendants sold 53.76 acres to William Chesnut in 1925. The land remained in the Chesnut family until it was sold to the government in 1962. Documentation suggests that in 1940, Chesnut had approximately 6.4 acres in orchard, filling the land between the Fremont River and the Scenic Drive. In 1987, 3.6 acres of orchard were removed to construct Loop C Campground.

Historic Crops:
Peach (434)
Apple (84)
Pear (30)
Current Crops:
Almond (25)
Apple (75)
Red Delicious
Yellow Delicious
unknown varieties
Pear (29)

Apricot trees were apparently not grown on my grandfather's upper orchard property, but that is what these orchards are full of now.  I love apricots in full bloom.  It is a promise of a beautiful spring, plus it just makes me want to sing the Primary song I grew up singing about "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree."

I am so lucky to have roots in such an incredible part of Utah.  My mom remembers spending time at her Grandma Dicey's home in Fruita and the famous Osage orange tree she had near her house.  It is still growing there although her home is long gone.  It is a picnic area now, named CHESNUT PICNIC AREA, across the highway from the old 'mail tree.'  Oh boy the stories that could be told if they were only written down. Thankfully, there are a few recorded stories and I love reading them.  I love visiting where they were played out, and I love that my kids enjoy it too.

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