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A roadside colossus, The Peachoid is a million-gallon water storage tank that rises to 135 feet in height. Its bulbous upper part has been sculpted and painted to resemble a peach, which symbolizes South Carolina’s position as America’s leading peach-producing state and publicizes the sizable contribution Cherokee County makes annually to that production. The Peachoid enjoys very high visibility due to its location adjacent to I-85 on the outskirts of Gaffney.
The Peachoid was originally intended to mark the eastern end of South Carolina Scenic Highway 11. After considering various possibilities for such a landmark, including a conventional tower, the Gaffney Board of Public Works originated the idea in 1974–1975 for a structure that could both have a symbolic (or advertising) value and also serve a purpose. Since Gaffney had a pressing need for a new water tower, the idea soon took the form of a peach-shaped tank. After securing federal funding to advance the project, in October 1979 the Board of Public Works selected Chicago Bridge and Iron Company to design and erect its proposed structure.
In order to enhance the peach-like shape of the tank’s upper portion, the fabricators of the welded steel Peachoid attached a metal “stem” and “leaf” to the top and a falsework “cleft” to one side. Muralist Peter Freudenberg received the painting contract. He was deemed specially qualified for the job since he had just completed a water tower project in Germantown, Maryland, called The Earthoid (1980), which consisted of a spherical water tank painted to resemble planet Earth as viewed from space.
Dedication of The Peachoid in July 1981 was timed to coincide with the Fifth Annual South Carolina Peach Festival, thus initiating the structure’s now dominant purpose of promoting South Carolina’s peach production. In Clanton, Alabama, in 1992–1993, the Chilton County Water and Sewer Works built The Big Peach, a very similar (but smaller) peach-shaped water tower meant to advertise another of America’s competing peach-growing areas. Like The Peachoid, it was fabricated by the Chicago Steel and Iron Company and painted by Freudenburg.
The Peachoid garnered international attention in 2013 after appearing in the television series, House of Cards. In 2015, The Peachoid was renovated and repainted by Eric Henn, an Ohio muralist whose credits include many water towers.
Green, Wayne. “Peach Tank Was Inspired By Scenic Highway 11.” Gaffney Ledger, July 10, 1981.
Manley, Roger. Weird Carolinas. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 2007.
Martinson, Tom. Atlas of American Architecture. New York: Rizzoli, 2009.
Zucchino, David. “No Need for Alarm: South Carolina Town’s Peachoid Tower Is Getting a Facelift, That’s All.” Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2015.
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