Behold the Gaffney Peach!

Gaffney peachOn a 1,000 mile round trip trek to Columbus, Georgia a couple of weekends ago, we passed the Gaffney Peach or the Peachoid, it’s real name, by the side of I 85 in South Carolina. We’ve seen the Peach many times as we travelled up and down I 85 on various trips. This time we noticed that it’s been repainted. It now looks more like a lemon. I rather liked it when it was “peachy.” I decided to do a little research on the structure.

The Peachoid is a 135 foot tall water tower, which holds one million gallons of water. It’s certainly a unique example of novelty architecture. If any of my readers are watching the series House of Cards, you’ll recall that the Peachoid was a focal plot point in Chapter 3, where it was joked that the structure resembles large buttocks, complete with gluteal crease (butt crack). Maybe that’s why it is also called the Moon Over Gaffney?

The Peachoid recently got a lift from Kim Kardashian, a celebrity famous for her backside. Timothy Griffin posted the picture on his Facebook page with the caption, “Kim Kardashian spotted in South Carolina!!!”

Kim Kardashian and the peachIn 1981, the Peachoid was commissioned to be built by the Gaffney Board of Public Works, and the shape of the peach was selected for the town’s needed elevated water storage because the Gaffney economy was then dependent upon peach orchards, The people of the town wanted to make clear that South Carolina, and at one time, Cherokee County alone (where Gaffney is located) produced more peaches per year than the entire state of Georgia (known as the “Peach State”).

The Peachoid was built by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, of steel and concrete. An overlay stem and leaf were laid across the structure, an enormous “cleft” was created with steel paneling. Peter Freudenberg, an artist who worked with macro-art, painted the structure to realistically pass for a peach.

Repeated cycles of freezing and warming caused the Peachoid’s paint to peel in 6-foot swaths, mostly in its cleft, leaving patches of dull yellow that Gaffney boosters saw as a blemish on the reputation of this former mill town. So in 2013, the Peachoid is underwent its first complete overhaul—$120,000 worth of sandblasting the old lead-based paint down to the steel and starting over with high-tech but finicky primer and paints that could only be applied to a dry, empty tank. Maybe that’s why it now looks more like a lemon?

Anyway, folks, the next time you’re traveling south on I 85, look for the Peach!




44 thoughts on “Behold the Gaffney Peach!”

  1. Thanks for giving such a thorough examination to this roadside attraction – form and function, it would seem. It is nice to get the story behind (ha, ha – no pun intended there) things.

  2. I’m not sure which came first but Australia is well known for it’s big cultutral icons. We have the Big Pinapple, the Big Apple, Big Banana, Big Sheep, Big Orange and more. The epitome of kitsch in many cases, but we love them anyway.

  3. That is really neat and interesting. This is going to be added to the list of places/things to see. Great post!

  4. I searched and searched for the peachoid in the picture of Kim Kardashian but couldn’t find it. I did note however that she seems to have a nasty boil at the lower end of her left cheek. Are there no nudity laws in that area?
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    1. David, only you would note that! I think the picture was taken before the re-painting. Loking at recent pictures of the KK rear end, the resemblance is remarkable.

  5. I think it looks like an Orange, or even a cricket ball, rather than a peach, but I suppose it will look entirely different in the flesh as to how it looks on the photo’s .

    Quite an eye opener of an object whilst driving down the highway.

  6. I just adore the mentality of whoever commissioned this. Great stuff. We have a water tower near our place in Suffolk where someone has built a house on the top – The House in the Clouds which you can rent. Same idea. I can imagine, if you aren’t expecting it, it might cause accidents.

  7. My grandmother is from Columbus though I’ve only been to the town for a training seminar at Ft Benning. We have a similar water tower peach in Clayton County here in Alabama and I always look for it when we’re heading down I-65. I love the history on the SC tower. I’ve never thought to research them!

  8. How fabulous. I have not heard of the Peachoid. However, back in the day, the Georgia Peach was the butt of many a joke when i was there… because the state’s choice for the logo looked more like a butt than a peach. It was on a giant billboard… that loomed as you drove over a hill… like a moon rising… 😀

  9. I’m with Teagan. What a fabulous looking thing! Those are the types of things that make you stop in your tracks and wonder about the sense of humor of some people…:)

  10. This is fascinating! To tell you the truth, as soon as I began reading this post I thought of the book James and the Giant Peach. A very strange ‘children’s book,’ yet when I read it out loud to my children, they were enthralled. Probably much like people who drive by this SC peach are enthralled.

  11. Interesting history! Yes, I knew the structure from HoC, but the Kardashian picture was pretty funny, too. By the way, the book came!! Can’t wait to dig in. ^_^ Thanks so much for sending it!

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