The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., April 29, 1909, page 1


     Railroad development, extensions and prospects in the upper valley, generally spoken of as the Mt. Hood country, has awakened an activity in that section within the past year which has been unprecedented and has put new life into a rich section of this famous valley which has lain almost dormant since it was settled except such small improvements as the old settlers have been able to do with limited means.
     This is especially true of the section between the East and West Forks. When the Mt. Hood road was put through to Dee it afforded some relief to the settlers within a few miles of the road and the last year has witnessed considerable work on the logged off lands between the Middle and West Forks near the town of Dee which the Oregon Lumber Co. has put on the market in small tracts. The station at Dee however is in a canyon and the grade up from the station to the farms in the upper country was somewhat of a drawback, and there was but a small area of developed country within reach.
     The extension of the road to the base line this spring, however, has had a wonderful effect on the country which will be served by stations which will put the patrons of the road within a short distance of the railroad over easy grades and good roads. It opens up possibilities that did not exist before, encourages the settlement of the country and land is changing hands rapidly now at $150 to $250 and acre which were a drag on the market a couple of years ago at $20 to $50.
     The new terminus of the road is at the base line and is but three miles over a good road to the settlers at the foot of China Hill. The Mt. Hood postoffice will be less than two miles from a station, while every farm between the Middle and East Forks will be within a drive of five to thirty minutes from a station.
     The upper country is the largest part of the valley. The land is uniform in quality, one part of it looking like another. There is good depth of soil, of the kind generally known as "shot land", easily worked, and nearly the whole country lies practically level, with a gradual slope towards the mountains which makes irrigation easy. There are less deep ravines than in the lower valley, about the only depression being those through which a few trout creeks run, while the distances between the forks of Hood river widen out in the upper valley until there are thousands of acres in one body, allowing crossroads between sections in straight lines that render communication between neighbors as easy as and a prairie country. All these are the advantages indeed, and are inducements to the settling up of the country.
     The question of land clearing in the upper valley has been a serious drawback heretofore. The great distance from market did not permit of cutting the timber into wood, and until the saw mill at Dee afforded a market for good saw timber, the heavy timber was a burden on the land too great for extensive clearing. With the railroad extension, the Oregon Lumber Co. can afford to buy such of the timber as they can use, and are doing so. The same road will also afford an outlet for cord wood which can be made of trees not merchantable for lumber. In many cases this price will nearly pay or quite pay for the clearing the land.
     Another advantage of the upper country is the abundance of water. Being located near the source of supply, the immense glaciers of Mount Hood, irrigating ditches are maintained at a nominal cost, many of the early settlers having private ditches which furnish them more free water than they can use, while ditch companies have for sale water at one-third the price of that in the lower valley. On account of the more level country, there is practically no fluming to be done, the water running freely in open dirt ditches, which can be directed to any part of the farm by a plow furrow.
     The scenic beauty of the upper country has an attraction all its own. The outlines of Mount Hood as seen from a distance are brought out with a clearness in the upper country that reveals the towering snow-capped mountains in all its majestic grandeur. The higher elevation brings with it an exhilarating atmosphere, the pure spring water is colder, the mountains which form the horseshoe at Mount Hood are higher, and the whole scene expands on a grand scale.
     The future of the upper valley is now well assured. There is already sufficient development under way to insure the settling up of the country and warrant the extension of the railroad line of six miles, and which must ultimately go farther. The privations of the early settlers are being relived by congenial neighbors, better schools, more roads, a market for wood and saw timber, telephones and the many little things that make life worth living. A good start has been made. There are sufficient bearing orchards in each different section to demonstrate what the country will do. The disadvantages or uncertainties of country and crop have all been found out by those early settlers who have braved the trials of the pioneer, in a somewhat isolated country, and the investor with means is more willing to pay the advanced prices for the land now than to risk the uncertainties of the future at one-fifth the cost a few years ago.
     The homesteader is able to dispose of a part of his ranch at a good price and with the funds provided clear up the balance of his place. He is accomplishing more in a year's time than he was able to do in the ten years previous, and the condition is working at a transformation in the country among the old homesteads, as well as in the new homes being made in the wilderness by those with means who are taking no risk of the future.
     There are a few, however, to whom belong great credit in going in in advance of the latter class. Those who had the means to develop the country and who were far sighted enough to back their judgment with outlay of cash. They have secured considerable land at low prices and are now taking their profit, yet it is to their credit that their work induced others to follow, and the profits are justly their due. G.D. Woodworth has probably cleared more land in the upper valley than any other one man, and his holdings of ranch property are now the largest of the individual owners. This is not taking account of the large timber holdings, but of that class who are making homes, setting out orchards and opening up clearings in the wilderness, as the first aid to settling up the country.
     Mr. Woodworth's first venture in the upper valley was when he bought the Burkhard place, in company with Mr. Loomis, of New York. He has 680 acres of land, of which he owns individually and part in company with others. He has already 253 acres set to trees, and there are 160 acres more ready for the plow which will be set out next fall, while he expects to clear 160 acres more next year. On what he calls his home-place, formerly the Burkhard place, now owned by Woodworth & Loomis, 20 acres are in orchard. This is one of the prettiest places in the upper valley. The end of the lave beds come down into this place and out from that pile of rocks flows the finest ice cold spring in the whole valley. It evidently flows over a field of ice down under the lava beds, as the temperature is but a little above freezing in the hottest weather. Mr. Woodworth says there is enough water flowing out of the spring to supply a large city, and he expects some time to bring it to Hood River in pipes for domestic use.
     London & Powers have also done a great deal towards demonstrating what can be done in the higher elevations, and came into the country long before there was any talk of a railroad into the valley. They have backed up their judgment by going into the country near the foot of China Hill and setting out an orchard, two acres of which is now bearing, and last year produced 600 boxes of as fine apples as ever raised anywhere in the valley. The success of this place has proven the value of the land farther up and has been of great value to the country in that respect. The same credit is due also to the homesteaders whom made clearings in every part of the valley, clear to the shadows of Mount Hood, and have a few at least, of bearing trees that show what can be done. London & Powers have 50 acres cleared on their home place, which is being carried for by J.F. Thompson, and which will all be in orchard this spring.
     The first improved ranch near the junction at the East and Middle Forks is that of W.H. Marshall. He came into the country seven years ago and bought 40 acres. Of that tract 36 acres have been cleared and 25 acres set to trees. The bulk of these are of the standard varieties of apples, with quite a few peaches, cherries and pears. A comfortable bungalow has been built where it commands a view of the gorge of the river to the north, while a new road with an easy grade has been built along the steep hillside to the wagon road below, and will be within a quarter of a mile from a new station of the P.S. Davidson forty on the East Fork of the river. Mr. Marshall has an abundance of free water on the place, and three acres in grass has provided an abundance of feed for his team and cow. Mr. Marshall is an old fashioned man, having been general agent of the Milwaukee road of the Pacific coast years ago, and has applied business methods in his farming that has made his place one of the attractions of the upper valley. His wide acquaintance and known integrity have been a great help in getting new settlers in the country, and he is now engaged in selling the land in this section when he can spare the time from his farm work.
     Joining Mr. Marshall on the south is the old Disbrow homestead, which was bought by J.H. Thomas a number of years ago, and is now occupied by Charles I. Thomas, a son, who is also a road supervisor of that district. J.H. Thomas is a new resident of Corvallis. Charles I. Thomas is living on the place and has purchased 20 acres, which he is clearing for a home. Ten acres will be cleared and set out this season and will be set out to apples. An acre of pears, hay lot, and a new house are also plans for the future. A large quantity of free water on the Thomas place is also a valuable asset.
     H.T. Hanson is a resident of a number of years and has 12 acres cleared and all set out to trees. About four acres are bearing and there are also about three acres of strawberries on the place. Mr. Hanson is doing more clearing as fast as he can get the time.
     Allen Macrum also came into the country while it was yet somewhat of an experiment, before the railroad was built as far as Dee, and while making a home in the dense timber was a much harder proposition that at present. However, he managed to get eight acres cleared, a small orchard set out, built a comfortable house and out buildings, and made a living on this small piece of ground. Last fall he sold off all but 40 acres, and is now clearing up five acres more, and will be able to make a good showing. The new railroad will connect him with a market for wood and saw timber, and lessen the cost of clearing the land. The timber on his place is so thick as to almost exclude the light and the product of wood and good saw timber will be very large.
     Miss White, of Portland, has 100 acres in this section which she will improve by clearing ten acres this year.
     A.W. Stone came into the county from Buffalo last year and purchased 45 acres of Macrum and Hanson, and is doing great work. Unwilling to burn the fine timber he cut 1,000 cords of wood and piled it on the place, even before the extension of the railroad, and will now be able to get it to market. He will finish the clearing of seventeen acres this year, which he will set to the standard varieties of apples. He is much pleased with the outlook, and the heavy clearing on his piece of land has not discouraged him in the least. He will continue the work until the land is all under cultivation.
     On the main road east from the Thomas place is that of A.B. Billings, another of the old settlers, who now has but 22 acres left, having sold off the balance of his land. Mr. Billings has 15 acres cleared, of which three acres are in orchard, most of it bearing, and the balance is in hay land.
     A.R. Nichols, who bought 20 acres of Mr. Billings on the east, will be on the new right of way of the railroad extension, and already has ten acres cleared and set out to apples, with pear trees as fillers.
     Adjoining the Billings place on the south is about 3,000 acres of fine timber owned by the Oregon Lumber Co., which will be the base of operations for their mill as soon as the railroad extension is finished. When the land is logged off it will be put on the market, and as it is as fine orchard land as lies in the upper valley, it will soon be settled up and dotted with fine homes.
     Beyond the timber land of the Oregon Lumber Co. about a mile is the McIsaacs place, one of the beauty spots of the upper valley. A fine home has replaced the old log house of the homesteaders, and a few acres of bearing orchard of vigorous growth, together with several acres of hay land, makes the place and income producer. Mr. McIsaacs is doing more clearing, as his time taken up with county commissioner and ditch manager will allow, and he is developing a very valuable property. This place joins the Woodworth placed on the north. A half mile south of this place is the D.E. Miller ranch of 80 acres, 24 of which are cleared and in a high state of cultivation, being all set out to trees, with 17 acres of berries as fillers, and the largest berry patch in the upper valley.
     Across from Mr. Miller is a 40 acre tract being cleared up by Ricketts & McDonald, which will be set out to apples as soon as cleared.
     Across the road east from the Woodworth place O.O. Walton is developing 40 acres. He has a pretty bungalow which was built last year, good barn and out buildings, and 25 acres cleared, of which 12 acres are set to apples, with strawberries between.
     South of the Woodworth and Walton places John Cooper has a homestead which he filed on out of the reserve which was thrown open to settlement a couple of years ago, and is clearing up five acres this year.
     A new road was built from these places to connect with the new terminus of the Mount Hood road, on the base line, and Eilers and McCormick, of Portland have 40 acres each on this new road which they are improving. Each have 20 acres cleared and set to trees.
     At the terminus of the railroad is the school house and the residence of Mrs. A. Ries, and this place will be the nucleus of a trading point for the ranchers in this section. The Mount Hood Railroad have secured ten acres of ground for terminals on which will be erected a handsome passenger and freight depot, roundhouse and shops for car repair work. It is understood, that when the present extension is complete, there will be two trains per day, leaving upper valley in the a.m. instead of Hood River as at present. The place being centrally located, it can be reached from every direction by good and practically level roads, and will be a commercial center of the newly developed district.
     Mrs. Ries is one of the old settlers in this neighborhood, and has 26 acres left, half of which is cleared, with seven acres in orchard. Her sons, Emil and Henry, have each 20 acres left, having disposed of the balance of their land.
     East and joining the Ries place is the homestead of Wm. Rodenhiser, who is the first settler in that neighborhood, and has 50 acres cleared. Until recently he has used the place as a stock farm, raising considerable hay. He is now setting out 30 acres of orchard and 17 acres of strawberries.
     Adjoining the school house on the south is the homestead of Ed Spencer. He has 75 acres left, has built a fine new house and is putting out 500 apple trees and four and a half acres of strawberries.
     H.H. Myers is developing his homestead adjoining, has a comfortable home, and is finishing up the clearing of 20 acres, most of which is being set out in orchard.
     A.C. French is on the Miller Murdock place of 40 acres, of which 20 is in apple trees, and is finishing clearing the balance of the place. Mr. French is also looking after the Eilers and McCormick tracts.
     One of the principal stations on the new extension is a mile north of the base line, at the H.H. Tomlinson place. It is on the old road at the junction where it goes across the East Fork to the Mount Hood post office, and the nearest point to the railroad from the Mount Hood postoffice. A depot will be erected here.
     H.H. Tomlinson has 40 acres here, with ten acres cleared of which four acres are set out to apples and strawberries. Mr. Tomlinson has a fine residence, a good barn, and in connection with ranching is county surveyor under Judge Henderson.
     Going south from there L.W. Tomlinson is clearing five acres of his forty acre tract, and has erected a temporary home for his family.
     The Robt. McKamey place of fifteen acres adjoining is now owned by G.D. Woodworth and is mostly cleared.
     An 80-acre tract belonging to Mr. Platt, of Iowa, has ten acres cleared and set to trees.
     A.O. Johnson has a fine 15 acre place, mostly cleared and set to apples, five acres being out in orchard, some of the trees in bearing, and between three and four acres are being set out to strawberries. The new survey of the railroad cuts through this place and while it is annoying to Mr. Johnson, it could not be helped.
     The Wishart homestead west from here has about 30 acres cleared, of which half are in apple trees, with a few in bearing. Six acres are in strawberries. There are 80 acres left of this place, now owned and occupied by Jas. Wishart. The railroad will cut through this place, going within a short distance of the house.
     Eighty acres belonging to Rae, Murdock and Livingstone adjoining are being cleared and set to orchard.
     In this neighborhood is C.A. Puddy, who has half of his 20 acres cleared and is being set out to orchard. Three acres are in bearing and two acres and strawberries.
     O.M. Bailey has 40 acres left, 25 of which are cleared and will cleared ten more. Three and a half acres are in old orchard, some of the trees in bearing, and five more acres will be set out to orchard this year. There are 17 acres of the hay on this place.
     Hann & Moody are clearing six acres of their forty, which will be sent to orchard and strawberries this year. J.B. Johnson is living on a ten acre place adjoining, of which he has about four acres cleared, and which is being set out to apples and strawberries.
     Farther south a big section of willow land on the Riggs and Waite homesteads is being cleared by a colony of eastern settlers who have gone into the country this year. Mrs. Allen purchased the Riggs homestead and sold 20 acres to Mr. Pierronet, 30 acres to Mr. Steinhauer, 55 acres to Mr. Cassidy and 30 acres to G.D. Woodworth, retaining 25 acres. Practically all of this land is being cleared and will be set to orchard, to the extension of the Mount Hood road. While all parts of the upper valley will be benefited by this extension, the activity on every hand in what may be termed the middle section of the upper valley has no doubt hastened the extension of the road this year, while the announcement of this extension has caused a sharp advance in values in the territory immediately tributary to this extension. The country along the old stage road to the mountain will be left for a subsequent article.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer