Updated April15, 2014
We are keeping our fingers crossed. Today it was cold, but we had some wet snow and so far the apple buds are looking great for the 2014 crop!
The water situation seems to be much improved over the past two years. We just finished irrigating the orchard last week, and the reservoirs on Beaver Creek are full. The younger trees we watered with supplemental municipal water last year came through in great shape, although we lost some of the old-timers that couldn't withstand the drought. If we don't freeze out this year it should be a great apple crop.
Third Street Apples is a five acre working apple orchard located in the small community of Penrose, Colorado. We are one of only a few "pick-your-own" apple orchards east of the continental divide, with over 40 varieties of apples, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch with our own home-grown pumpkins, beehives, a small store, and a variety of dogs, cats, and chickens. We offer a real slice of country life with no admission charge and no frills. Our form of "entertainment" is a quiet afternoon with the family picking apples, and absorbing the sights, sounds (and occasional smells) of an agricultural community. We think its wonderful when people take the time to learn a little about our disappearing farming heritage. Bring a picnic lunch (we do have picnic tables and a portable restroom) , and be sure to bring a camera.
Penrose was established in 1909 on land owned by Spencer Penrose who made a fortune selling goods to miners at Cripple Creek and Victor. He developed the Beaver Park Land and Irrigation Company as a means of providing food, including beef, vegetables and fresh fruit for the mining communities and for his resort hotel at the Broadmoor. In its heyday there were nearly 3,000 acres of fruit trees in the area, and the orchards were profitable in part because apples ripen about two weeks earlier here than in the upper midwest. Two fruit packing houses once shipped apples from Penrose to Chicago by the trainload- today there are less than 100 acres of managed orchards in all Fremont County. Changing climate, competition from other areas like eastern Washington State, and changes in the availability of irrigation water have made orcharding more difficult than it once was. Fortunately there are still a few orchards for you to visit.
Third Street Apples was once part of a larger orchard known as Singing Hills. The original orchard was planted in about 1910, replanted by John Molello in about 1949 (the big old trees you see in our orchard are part of this planting). In about 1982 the big standard trees were "interplanted" with semi-dwarf trees. Since Lance and Gail Tyler purchased the orchard in 1997, additional plantings were made in 1999, 2003 and 2006. There are now about 550 trees in the orchard, with 41 different varieties including many old-time "heritage" varieties as well as the familiar grocery store types. Since different apples ripen at different times from August into November, you will have to plan more than one trip to sample them all!