Moses Cone Apple Orchards
Backstory and Context
At the Moses Cone Memorial Apple Orchards there was a large use of pesticides as well as the fungicides that were used in the apple orchards during the spring and the summer months. In the mid 1890’s these sprays were mixed together and stored in spray houses near where the orchards were. There is no longer any existing spray houses. as they have all been torn down. However the effects that they had on the property are still very much present today.
The beginning use of the insecticides were primarily for the disease and pests in the area in the 1880’s. The Apple orchards were planted significantly far apart; approximately 35 feet apart. The orchards offered considerable employment, giving over 15% of the Blowing Rock population a job. At its peak, the orchard had 10,000 trees producing over 50,000 bushels of apples, which were sold throughout the Southeast.
During the Great Depression it was difficult for the wife of Moses Cone, Bertha, to maintain the apple orchards as well as the dairy farm. As a result, agriculture on the estate began to decline. Two of the three orchards--the Saw Mill Orchard and the China Orchard--have all but disappeared, leaving little evidence of their existence beyond traces of lead arsenate still in the soil.
In the mid-twentieth century, there were still around 190 acres covered by orchards. But the original trees have been lost due to age, disease or to the lack of maintenance. However, according to Susan Dolan, the trees that are still surviving on site at the Cone orchards are highly significant because they are rare specimens of early-twentieth-century apple cultivars.