On 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!!!”
In 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!