The Whitacre family orchards began in the early 1900s with George S. Whitacre planting the first 40 acres of apples in Western Frederick County, Virginia. Back then, a good harvest would yield three bushel barrels which would be hauled by horse-drawn wagon to a nearby train station. The apples would be loaded onto a train car, and shipped off to different markets, some as far away as England, where York Apples were in large demand. The Whitacre apples became well known because of their unique red coloring, which is due to the red soil in Frederick County.
The orchard tradition continued into the 1930s when George's grandson, George B. Whitacre, bought his first 35 acres of apples. As the years went on, George decided to plant peach trees as well, and by the 1950s, the family had established the 350 acres that is still maintained today. In 1966, the family that owned the only nearby cannery decided to retire and sold it to the Whitacres, on the condition that the Shawnee Springs name would be kept intact.
The name comes from a Native American tribe indigenous to the area, and a natural spring that is in the Blue Ridge Mountain range located right behind the cannery. Today, the tradition continues with George's son William Lee, who is now President of Whitacre Orchards. William continues to grow several varieties of apples including Red and Golden Delicious, York, Empire, Jonathan, and Rambo, as well as the Red Haven, Glow Haven, Bounty, John Boys, and Rising Star peaches that give the Shawnee Springs canned peaches an unsurpassed quality. The family also grows three varieties of corn, and produce of all kinds, to sell in its own farm market, as well as other local markets. William's daughter, Lisa Whitacre Johnson, is the General Manager of Shawnee Canning Company. Lisa oversees the growth of both the product line and the availability of Shawnee Springs brand fruit products in gourmet shop, emporiums, and gift shops throughout the country.
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