Where’s Ella Gap?
Ella Gap was once a thriving rural community adjacent to the present market location, which is about 75 miles straight North of Atlanta, GA. The Ella Gap Post Office was about 300 yards northwest of the market site, on the L & N Railroad. The Stembridge family began growing apples here in the 1920’s, shipping the fruit from a rail siding at Ella Gap.
Eventually the family partnership gave rise to separate orchard operations, one of which was Blue Ridge Mountain Orchards, Joel Stembridge, Proprietor.
The name was changed to Panorama Orchards in 1965, when the business became a partnership between Joel and his son, Gene. Panorama was incorporated in 1978, but continues to operate as a family farm.
The Way It Was
Apple production was gradually shifted from the Ella Gap area to a superior orchard site several miles east. We continued apple production on Talona Mountain, the prominent ridge behind the market, until 1980. The public road alongside our parking area leads to the cross fire tower on top of Talona (1.5 miles). Our apple plantings once ran almost the entire length of the Talona Mountain ridge. Both this area and our present farm have panoramic views!
Many of the antiques in our market are from the 1920s – 1950s era, when our apple production was centered in the Ella Gap area. The collection includes an early apple brushing machine, ring-packing tubs, and wooden apple boxes and box labels used during the 40s and 50s. Our collection of colorful apple box labels includes the “Talona” brand labels which were used in Ella Gap during this era.