The Oregonian, Portland, OR., June 8, 1913, page 8
Includes photographs

Upper Hood River Valley Proves Place of Peace and Plenty, Dreams and Demonstrations and Becoming Home of Army of Former City Dwellers
By Joe D. Thomison

     HOOD RIVER, Or., June 14. -- (Special) -- During the past three yearn the apple orchards of the Hood River Valley have been approaching closer and closer to the snow line of Mount Hood, until today the visitor to the upper Valley of this mid-Columbia orchard district is surprised to find the forests and brush land giving way to the tilled groves of young trees and the homes of new residents at the foot of the towering white peak of the "Witch Mountain," as Hood has been termed by Indians.
     For three years in no part of the entire valley has so much land been cleared and so many new homes built as in this district. Immediately south of the village of Parkdale, the terminus of the Mount Hood Railroad, and a settlement not, yet five years old, the traveler may easily believe he is touring a neat, new suburban addition of a city, such is the architecture of the recently built homes and their proximity to each other.
     Six years ago on a quarter section of land a single small dwelling stood, isolated, shut in by the giant fir trees that rear themselves for a hundred feet toward the skies. Today seven new and modernly equipped bungalows, most of them having been built in the. past two years, and two just being completed, form a picture of rural development. And from an eminence in this district one can see more than a thousand acres of young apple trees, some of them 3 years old and others just planted.

Orchardists Have Faith.

     While the past year has been one of temporary discouragement, the Upper Valley residents have faith in the industry and progress is noted on every hand. The smoke from the slashing fire of the land clearings ascends to the heavens daily and the trees on more than 100 acres, where they have just been planted are taking root. There are but few bearing orchards in the Upper Valley, but those that have produced fruit have demonstrated that the district produces a long-keeping apple of excellent quality. It is not as large as the fruit of the Lower Valley, but many of the Upper Valley residents declare that the time will come when their product will be placed on the market under a special brand, because of its extraordinary keeping qualities.
     The coolness of the nights here seems to give an extra firmness to the fruit, and even the Gravenstein, which is well known in lower altitudes as an early Fall variety, becomes here in reality a Winter apple, and may be taken from the cellars as late as the first Summer months, retaining all of its firmness and flavor. The Golden Ortley, ordinarily a poor keeper, also bids fair to become a popular variety with Upper Valley growers because of its long lasting qualities acquired by growth there.

Mount Hood Casts Sell.

     The settlers of this new orchard district came from Portland, from the Middle West, from the South, New England and New York City. For the most part those who now reside there are former city residents, who sought the quiet of country life in the West and who were lured to, the district by the wonderful natural scenery; for here, in addition to the inspiring spectacle of Mount Hood towering above them, the people may look across the broad expanse of the Lower Valley to the peaks of Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens in Washington.
     But the "Witch Mountain" is the enchantress that lures the newcomers to linger and be caught by the spell that she casts on all who look upon her ever changing face, whether it be from the distance, or at her base, and all who have ever lived any length of time in the Upper Valley declare that whenever they are long absent from spots where they can behold her snow white pinnacle they feel the irresistible call to return.
     One never tires of the mountain, for it never presents the same picture any two moments of a day. It might be likened to a mammoth painting on which some unseen titan with an invisible brush expands his inspirations in the colors of nature, herself. Now the sun may sparkle with an indiscernible brilliancy on the snow particles of the vast fields and the exposed points of deep blue glacier ice, the peak rising in a sky as limpid as a sylvan lake, where nymphs come to peer and mirror themselves in the preparation of their toilet. In a twinkling a tiny cloud may blow up from the south and cast its shadow, changing all. The haze may changed to lowering storm clouds and the mountain may seem to be trying to retire in the black veil in an effort to hide from the expected fury of the elements.

Small Streams Numerous

     Nor are men and women as happy in a region stamped by the monotony of the sameness as a corner of the earth where they may not only be able to look upon the wildest grandeur of nature but also repair to simpler nooks and hide themselves in narrower confines of beauty. The Upper Valley is threaded with small streams, their sources in the springs at the glaciers' ends. Sport for the Nimrod abounds and deciples of Sir Isaac Wa___ from the Lower Valley make annual tours to these wild, dashing trout streams. The Upper Valley man need never become dull for lack of out of doors play and sport.
     In the Fall he may hunt to his heart's content, for bear and deer abound in virgin forests as his back door. In the more remote sections of the district ranchers complain that in the late Fall the deer take too great a toll from their meadows, and the tracks of the nimble, wild creatures may be found on almost any summer day in the tilled surface of the fields or orchards.
     In a region of such wonderful natural scenery one might expect the people to be prone to become poetic, especially the recently transplanted city dwellers, and lacking in the practical ideas of which farmers are supposed to be the masters. Indeed, one may carry away the faint suspicion that he has been among dreamers after a sojourn in the Upper Valley, but the evidences of the deeds that he beholds on every hand shows that men may dream and work at the same time. In no community is the diversity of farming taking so deep a hold as in the Upper Valley. The residents here will make orcharding their principal work, but they do not want to put all of their eggs in one basket, and the raising of pigs and cows and chickens has become, too, one of the tasks.

Stores Are Convenient

     The district supports two general merchandise stores and many of the ranchers, when the month's statement of business is received, smile when they behold a balance on the credit side; for the sum total of the products that they have sold to the merchant is larger than that which they have expended for the necessaries of life that they cannot produce on their ranches.
     In no part of the state are irrigation projects more cheaply constructed than in this district. Three systems supply water to the Upper Valley residents. On the West Side of the southern part of the district the supply is had for the exceedingly small sum of $2.50 per inch from the Middle Fork of the Hood River. The East Side of the district is watered by the Glacier Irrigating Company, a co-operative concern that has impounded the flow of the Tillie Jane, a glacial creek, The farmers of the Mount Hood district, that part of the country lying next to the range of hills that divides the Upper Valley from the Lower, have water practically free. In the pioneer days the ranchers banded themselves, together here and dug a ditch, and now, to flood the orchards and hay fields, no greater effort is required than the infinitely small task of opening the gates of the system. In this particular district there is a growing sentiment that more profit can be derived from the growth of hay and grain and the production of milk and butter than in raising apples, and a creamery has been proposed.
     Some of the earliest homesteads of the apple community are in the Mount Hood district, where formerly all business interests of the Upper Valley centered, but the construction of the railroad to Parkdale has set about a shifting process. The Mount Hood store has closed its doors. Although a postoffice is maintained there, the postmaster has but little work. Most of the mail is distributed at Parkdale, the starting point of a rural free delivery route, the carrier of which delivers daily the latest metropolitan papers.

Parkdale Shows Growth

     In less than five years from the mere end of a railroad in the forest. Parkdale has grown to a substantial village with a church, schoolhouse, mercantile establishment, commodious railroad station, hotel and numerous residences.
     As in all other things, the Upper Valley residents practice co-operation in their religious worship. The community has organized a union church with two buildings, one at Mount Hood and the other at Parkdale. Members of all denominations are tree to affiliate with the congregation. Rev. W.L. VanNuys, formerly the pastor of a Presbyterian church at Pendleton, is pastor of the Upper Valley Union Church, and preaches on alternate Sundays at the two churches.
     One of the most interesting of the Upper Valley residents is J.F. Thompson, a grizzled pioneer, who has built a home beside the 116-acre orchard tract which he and his partner, A. Millard, an Omaha banker, have developed -- a home that might cause any me to disobey the injunction of Holy scripture and covet. He has been a farmer in many states, having raised corn in Ohio, wheat in Indian Territory, and stock in the Rocky Mountain country. Broken In health, he sought a more fostering clime, eight rears ago, going first to Southern Oregon. "But I was still restless with the fever warming my blood," he says, "and my wife, children and I, placing our belongings in a wagon, secured a team and began a tour across the Cascades of Southern Oregon over to he headwaters of the Deschutes. We took our time and traveled in leisurely stages down that stream and thence into Eastern Oregon. But we returned down the Columbia to The Dalles, where we embarked on a boat or Portland. From that city our journeys led up into the district of the Willamette. It was here that we decided to make a visit to the Hood River Valley, and we shipped our wagon and goods by boat to Hood River.

Homesteaders Finally Win.

     "Many times in our travels I was on the point of settling down, but I was glad that we had continued the journey when I beheld the little protected cove in the Upper Valley, where I now have my home. All this region was a wilderness then, but I saw the possibilities. Orchard planting was in its heyday in the Lower Valley, but as yet no commercial tracts had been set in the Upper region. The homesteaders disappeared every year in the early Summer and left for the grain fields of Central Oregon, where they earned enough money to, purchase the necessities of life that they were not able to produce on their small clearings, All of them are growing apple trees now and selling their surplus labor at a greater return than that of the grain fields at their doors"
     However, the Upper Valley land, as has been proved, can produce as great a yield of wheat as any part of the state, although but few fields are sown with grain. On the Boneboro orchard tract, about a mile and a half north of Parkdale, where more than a hundred acres have just been cleared by a huge donkey engine and crews of Japanese, a field was sown to wheat last year. The grain was harvested, before it matured, for hay. Experts said that if it had been allowed to ripen it would have yielded more than 60 bushels per acre. The unusual rain of the present year is causing another large tract of wheat to grow with such vigor in the deep, mellow soil, that it is believed that the estimate of last year will be surpassed.

Amusement Is Provided

     Existence does not grow tedious in the Upper Valley because of lack of social festivities. In addition to the usual functions of the community, the Progressive Association presents each Winter an excellent lyceum course for the entertainment and education of the residents. But none of these affairs is more keenly interesting than the number prepared and presented by the members of the club themselves. An annual event that draws large crowds from the Lower Valley is the production of the variety and vaudeville show of the Upper Valley people at the Parkdale Hall.
     A significant feature of the new apple community is the large number of young bachelors and the small number of unmarried girls. Within a radius of but little more than two miles in the Upper Valley 27 young bachelors, more than a score of them graduates of Eastern colleges, have built homes among their new orchards. It has been suggested that families with marriageable girls that are planning on seeking new homes on the Pacific Coast, might lay the foundation for much pleasant work for Cupid by choosing homes in the Upper Valley. The little Love God has already been busy in the community, for every schoolmistress that has ventured to teach there has won the admiration of one of the bachelor men and caused him to turn benedict.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer