California's citrus heritage has deep roots in what is now downtown Los Angeles. In the 1840s, it was the site of the state's first commercial citrus farm. "When the Gold Rush of 1849 hit, there was a huge demand for oranges in the gold country because it was well established that fresh citrus was useful in combating scurvy," a vitamin-C deficiency, said Vince Moses, a historian on California citrus and former director of the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. But long before citrus became a viable commercial crop, Spanish missionaries who settled in Southern California during the 1700s were already cultivating a variety of citrus fruit. Cold temperatures are not good for the sensitive fruit trees and devastating freezes had previously ravaged the Florida citrus industry. Causing groves to the planted and re-planted farther and farther south in Florida. Those in southern California thought they were immune to the cold, but on December 13, 1878 a bitter cold wave was able to push over the mountains from the east and the temperature dropped to 30 degrees in LA, in outlying areas it was even colder, in the 20s and did some damage to the trees. Still not quite as devastatingly cold as often had occurred in Florida where temperatures in the northern groves had dropped into the teens and lower destroying all the trees numerous times in the 1800’s.
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