This 100-year-old tree is still producing apples.
The heroic efforts of this young man to extract juice from apples drew admiring glances and laughs from family and friends.
Kathy and Steve Williams gave the history of the Cedar Springs apple orchard and served apples to their listeners.
(Photos by A. Cool Creighton)
An apple fest and the town in the lake
By A. Cool Creighton
Had a traveler been enjoying scenic State Highway 138, just 10 miles from Crestline to Silverwood Lake, on Saturday, Oct. 15, they may have run across a little-known but annual mountain gem of nature and history: the Apple Festival at Silverwood State Recreation Area.
This event is organized by the Mojave River Natural History Association, a nonprofit organization interested in expanding educational and interpretive functions at Silverwood Lake. The association’s support activities include docent training, volunteer staffing of the nature center, a bald eagle count, trail work, campfire programs, a butterfly project, and the Junior Ranger Program, according to Janelle Smith of Crestline, a member of M.R.N.H.A.
Even many long-time residents of the mountains were surprised to find out that there is an Apple Fest. They might even be surprised that an apple orchard even exists within the Silverwood state recreation area, let alone one with a rich history and tradition.
The orchard is called the historic Cedar Springs apple orchard and is over 100 years old. It was once part of a town called Cedar Springs located where Silverwood Lake is now.
In the early 1900s, Dr. Carl Hewitt and his wife, Ella, settled in the area of Sawpit Canyon and Miller Canyon. They named their homestead Cedar Springs and proceeded to take advantage of the soil and water supply to grow orchards of apples, peaches, plums, and cherries. Later berries became a leading crop produced in Cedar Springs and some of these berries were frozen on-site and taken to Los Angeles to ice cream shops. Some were sent to Knotts Berry Farm.
Cedar Springs grew quickly in the early 20th century and eventually became a Seventh-Day Adventist Colony. Cedar Springs hosted numerous families, a school, a community meeting center, and a store.
The residents tended the orchards there until the state purchased all the land in the area for the State Water Project which included a plan to build a large reservoir where the town was. By 1961 the state had purchased all the land in the area. The groundbreaking for the reservoir was in November 1968 and the project commenced.
Once the dam was built, the town would become immersed entirely under the lake. In 1972, the lake reached its operating level. Recreation began in 1973.
The orchard survived but was left without much care until M.R.N.H.A began to restore it about 12 years ago. They partnered with a program of the Church of Latter-day Saints called Helping Hands to install irrigation systems, according to Steve and Kathy Williams of Apple Valley, members of M.R.N.H.A. They planted a variety of young apple trees among the remaining 100-year-old apple trees from the original orchard.
Steve Williams, speaking with guests, gave an in-depth history of the orchard, and the town of Cedar Springs as well as statistics and facts about apples, their varieties, origins, and worldwide production. Kathy Williams helped serve apples to guests as they discussed the flavor profiles of various varieties.
Guests were encouraged to try to turn the wheel on an old-fashioned apple press that crushed the apples and extracted the juice. Kids and adults were having a great time as the M.R.N.H.A. members cheered them on and explained how that machine works and its history. The apple press is a reproduction of one that was used in the early days of this historic orchard. The guests were able to take home a small bottle of the apple juice they made.
Master gardeners answered questions and distributed pamphlets. The information included when to plant and care for fruit trees, water awareness and conservation, native landscape, and pest management. Master preservers presented information about selecting, preparing, and canning fruit.
For more information about the Mojave River Natural History Association, visit https://silverwoodlakesra.org/ or scan this code: