The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., April 25, 1930, page 7


     It may have been the reading of the "Twenty Years Ago" column and the news which reminded Chris Dethman last weekend that he had been in Hood River 51 years, and is still going strong.
     To be exact, Chris Dethman first put his foot ashore in this county, when he stepped off a boat which had come to anchor down among the cottonwoods, north of where the Mt. Hood hotel now stands. The date was April 17, 1879, and as Chris admits that he was then in his 21st year, it is obvious that he has already beaten the three score years and ten to which it has been written man shall attain.
     With him, when he landed, was his elder brother John and wife, and a big trunk, which contained most of their belongings. It was the glowing letters of Charles Ehrck, who is still with us, and who had already been some time in this valley, which tempted John and Chris Dethman to head to the then more or less elusive West. They traveled overland to Frisco, and then sailed on the Great Republic to Portland. Chris recalls that at that time there was sharp competition between boats on the San Francisco-Portland route, one result being that the Dethmans made the trip for $10 per head, with food, and plenty of it, thrown in. This was the last trip the Great Republic made, for within a few hours after leaving Frisco on the next trip, the boat struck a rock and was lost.
     But back to the landing at the cottonwoods, where they waited for somebody to haul their belongings out into the valley. Finally Frank Backus put in an appearance with a wagon and team of light cayuses, and by the time the trunk and Mrs. Dethman were loaded on, it was plain that John and Chris would have to use Shank's Mare. One of the first men they met after they had held their reunion with Charles Ehrck was Hans Lage, already established on his homestead on the East Side. Years later, when Hood River began to produce apples in commercial quantities, Chris Dethman had a hunch that fine apples raised here ought to be worth more than the 75¢ a box then being paid by H.F. Davidson. So he got growers together and the Apple Growers Union came into existence, and the first year the growers shipped through this organization, the returns netted them $2 per box. This, says Mr. Dethman, was the first cooperative organization in the valley, and so well did growers think of it that Mr. Dethman, as one of its leaders, was annually re-elected president for many years. It was from this old Apple Growers Union that the present Apple Growers Association came into being, to develop into one of the greatest co-operative organizations in the country.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer