Washington's orchard output grew dramatically after the arrival of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railways in 1885 and 1893, respectively. The railroads and local real estate boosters promoted central Washington's desert as an orchard paradise, “where dollars grow on trees,” but the reality was far different. While prospective growers had been told that lush orchards were a simple product of nature, irrigated farming required a large input of capital, a high degree of horticultural expertise, and lots of hard work. The conflict between nature and the manmade landscape was evident in the efforts of growers. Instead of being a place of easy wealth, novice orchardists were often frustrated by their new landscape and the pressure to conform to industrialized methods. Although the Washington apple industry was ultimately successful, many growers struggled and failed due to lack of capital and expertise.

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