We were on our way to the Freightliner service center in Gaffney, motoring down I-85, when we saw it. A huge orange ball sticking up out of the trees. Since it was early October, we assumed it was a pumpkin. As we drew closer, we realized that it was actually a peach: a giant, tangerine-colored orb embellished with its own leaf.
“The Peachoid”, commonly referred to by locals as “The Peach”, was commissioned by the Gaffney, South Carolina, Board of Public Works. It took contractors five months to design and mold the steel for the one-million gallon watersphere which was built in the early 80s. In the 90s, New Jersey artist Peter Freudenberg painted it. After studying local peaches, he used fifty gallons of paint in twenty colors to create the fruit’s authentic look. A 7-ton, 60-feet long leaf was applied to one side to complete the trompe l’oeil effect. I’m not sure how the peachy transformation would have cut down on rubbernecking fatalities, but that’s the rumored rationale for the paint job. I think it might have more to do with dispelling the myth that Georgia the biggest peach producer in the south. Come to find out, that’s a misperception, and South Carolina really holds the top spot.
In a strange coincidence, just days after seeing The Peachoid in person, we were shocked when this roadside America attraction factored heavily in an episode of House of Cards. The Netflix show, which we’d just started watching, features Kevin Spacey as a conniving Congressman from South Carolina. In Episode 3 of the first season, he has to leave Washington to deal with a family whose daughter died while texting a joke about The Peachoid.
If you want to visit The Peachoid, look for it on the north side of I-85 between exits 90 and 92. A service road runs between the two exits, and there’s a small parking lot at the base.