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As It Was: Max Pracht Produces Prize-Winning Ashland Peaches

Ashland, Ore., once produced championship peaches, especially on the “Peachblow Paradise” orchard at Liberty and Pracht Streets, home to owner Max Pracht who came to Ashland in 1886.  His peaches sold for above market value and won a gold medal at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Pracht wrapped each peach in white paper embellished with his blue orchard trademark that was difficult to remove; apparently Californians had stamped Oregon fruit as Californian to the consternation of Oregon orchardists. When red ants threatened Pracht’s peaches, he ordered a shipment of toads to combat the problem.  According to his son, the toads were still hopping about Ashland several years later.

Pracht was born in Bavaria in 1846 and emigrated to Ohio with his parents as a young child.  He lived for a time in Alaska, serving as its first commissioner of fisheries.  While operating his Ashland orchard, Pracht held various federal government positions and traveled widely, always writing and lecturing about the beauties of Oregon. 

Pracht died in 1917 after what the Ashland Tidings described as “a long and eventful life.”

Sources:  "Beautiful Fruit Being Shipped Out Is Boosting Us." Ashland Tidings, 28 Aug. 1913, https://oregonnews.uoregn.edu/search/advanced; "Nation Register of Historic Places in Jackson County." Noe Hill Travels in Oregon, https://noehill.com/or_jackson/nat1981000489.asp;                

"Shipment of Toads Were Made in 1904." The Ashland Register, 14 Oct. 1927, https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/search/advanced.    

Finkle, Peter. "Nation's best peach came from Ashland." Histories and Mysteries, 23 Oct. 2018, dailytidings.com/lifestyle/histories-mysteries-nations-best-peach-came-from-ashland.

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.