Joe Roman, streets supervisor for the city of Chowchilla, uncovers the… (John Walker / Fresno Bee )
FRESNO — What is old, and even older, will unite to return a roadside attraction in the shape of a giant orange to Highway 99.
The San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation, which runs the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County, has won a bid to rescue the Mammoth Orange food stand from where it sat rotting in a Chowchilla city storage yard.
The Fossil Discovery Center is across the street from the largest deposit of fossils on the West Coast, according to the center's website. It is also on the same street where the Mammoth Orange once stood in Fairmead.
The hope is that the street will be renamed Mammoth Parkway and that the exit from Highway 99 will lead both to the 14-foot tall replica of a Columbian mammoth at the Discovery Center and to the Mammoth Orange next door.
"I personally have a vision of the restored Mammoth Orange selling cheeseburgers and orange freezes with mandarin orange trees planted on either side of the Mammoth Orange with white picnic tables and orange and white umbrellas," said Lori Pond, the foundation's president.
The food stand became the subject of a bidding war after Madera fruit stand owner Kathy Parrish, 74, started wondering what became of the orange, a noted example of car-culture architecture.
After a highway extension project put the stand out of business in 2007, the city of Chowchilla's redevelopment agency bought it to use as part of a museum. The museum never materialized, and a family of foxes moved into the abandoned orange.
Parrish initially offered the city $1,000 for the structure. But once the sale went public, other would-be buyers surfaced. The discovery center, one of the last of five bidders, bought the orange for $2,050.