The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., August 3, 1889, page 2


Hood River, Or., July 24, 1888

Editor, Hood River Glacier:

     Having a curiosity to again climb the steep grades of old Hood, and view the improvements that have been going on during the past summer, and the proposition being numerously seconded by a number of interested parties, arrangements were duly made, conveyance secured, and a bright morning in July found us on the road. The traveling was unusually good for this time of the year, as wood hauling so far has been unusually light, the farmers having paid more attention to their farms and less to wood; than heretofore. After crossing Hood river the dust was bad, until we reached the top of the Booth hill where dust gives way to stumps and brush. From Booth's will be the beginning of the stage company's road at Baldwin homestead. The traveling was very fair for this notoriously wretched piece of road. Where under the sun the road taxes of that district are worked is a mystery to everyone but them -- selors. The Stage Co.'s road from Baldwin homestead to the bridge, can be greatly improved by keeping on directly south on the county road, instead of turning down on the sandy river bottoms.
     Arriving at the bridge we made camp on the west side near the river. The bridge across the East Fork is a substantial structure of about 120 feet in length and a sixty foot span across the mainstream, was built by Stranahan Bros., and is a credit to both builders, and the owners.
     Here the stage road proper begins, and then work is apparent on every hand, in good bridges and broad and well worked grades.
     About two miles from the bridge in a heavy body of timber, we met the leaders of a large band of sheep; we could not turn and the sheep would not turn, nor give the road, and so we had to remain in our wagon for nearly half an hour, and enjoy as best we could, the detention and aroma of about 2800 head of "Mary's little school mates" that marched by in single file. These animal incursions of marauding sheep man into our little valley is an outrage that not be longer endured. The supply of grass is already scant for our own limited number of stock, and when these piratical bands of sheep are driven in upon us the result is that our stock is starved out, and comes home in the fall poor and unfit to enter into our rigorous winters. I understand that it has been practically demonstrated in some localities east of us, that saltpeter sowed plentifully during June and July brings forth fruit (sheep) meat for repentance, and I believe it so - try it brethren.
     The "Elk-beds" station is our next stopping place, where we were cordially greeted by our old friend Dallas. After watering our horses and eating a hasty lunch, we start again on our final pull for "Eliot glacier." As we approach the mountain the grades got heavier, our panting horses require frequent rests, our party impatient to reach the end of our journey alight and take a more direct route by the old road, while I with my heavily loaded team, wind lazily up the zig-zag road. The grade upon the whole is a great improvement upon the old one, but still there is room for improvement. A very just criticism would be that when so large an amount of money was to have been expended, a competent corps of engineers should have been sent out and a regular grade established. This could have been done as the broad even side of the mountain would allow it, and at no great increase of cost, but a vast improvement to the road.
     But the road has an end. The new hotel looms up before me perched on the summit of "Photographers Hill," then in the foreground "Eliot" glacier as its monstrous contorted, misshapen body of ice and rocks, while beyond it and in full view stands Oregon's pride - Mt. Hood.
     Other camp is made among the village of snowy tents that dot but the groves. Many friends gather around our evening fire with eager questions of friends at home, and news of fire and flood. Our day's work is done and we sink to sleep drinking in the pure mountain air.
     Early morning finds us with lunch basket in hand, climbing up not "the golden stairs" but the sharp broken rocks that form the mountain and cover the lower portion of the glacier. This past, we reached the smooth solid ice, with its hundreds of miniature rivers and creeks racing in their crystal bed. Further along we come to immense crevasses that cause you to step back and listen in awe to the infant Hood river rushing down its rocky bed beneath the glacier, hundreds of feet below. Still further up gigantic blocks of frozen snow stand towering above us, evidence of power immeasurable that has riven it into myriads of fantastic shapes. On land again we have evidences of our altitude in the gnarled and twisted trunks of pines two and three feet in diameter, that have defied the storms of ages and still have not grown higher than your shoulder. At your feet, see, there is a Lupin in full bloom, that at your home grows higher than your head, but here you can cover the mature plant, bloom and all, with a divided walnut shell.
     The beauty of the old camp is gone. Its primitive wilderness has passed away forever. Thousands of mischievous sheep have shorn its billowy hills of their wealth of grasses and flowers. The woodsman's ax and destructive fires have wasted the stately forest, the grader's pick and shovel have completed the ruin of nature's works.
     The hotel, perched upon the extreme summit of Photographer's point, overlooks the entire surrounding country, and affords a view unsurpassed anywhere in the world. From the south extreme you have the whole north fall of the mountain from the summit to the doorstep -- "Eliot" glacier from its very inception on the cloud-capped peak to its terminus, a perpendicular wall of ice 400 or 500 feet high. In the north there are Mts. Adams, Rainier and St. Helens that look like fleecy clouds floating on an ocean of deepest blue, while to the west at your feet, fades away the Cascade range into the distant Willamette valley. Eastward the silvery thread of the Columbia can be traced as far as Umatilla, and the shadowy form of the Blue mountains in the dim distance. On the left at your feet is a chasm where over 2000 feet below roars the torrent of the middle fork. A mile below at Stranahan's falls it leaps sheer 200 feet to its rocky bed below.
     A queer, quaint, old-fashioned house is "Cloud-Capped Inn." Colonel, let me congratulate you. Queen Anne never tested her royal shins before as grand a fireplace as that in the middle room. No expense has been spared, everything that comfort and convenience can suggest has been added. Water brought in 2 inch main furnishes an abundance of the clearest and purest liquid that was ever placed to mortal lips.
     But the sun sinks low in the west, our horses are impatient of delay, and there are hours of the cool evening drive between us and our homes.


©  Jeffrey L. Elmer