The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., October 8, 1948, page 10


     Ed. note: Though following article, written by W.S. Andrews of Farm and Fireside, appeared in an issue of the Hood River News some 20 years ago and relates the history of the late Hans Lage, for some 50 years a resident and former in famed Hood River valley.
     Coming to the valley as a pioneer before its possibilities as an apple region where even dreamed of, Hans Lage hewed a homestead out of the forest. Now, at fourscore years, he takes life easy, enjoying the prosperity and comforts the years have brought.
     Hans Lage was born in the Holstein country in Germany, March 18, 1847. At the age of 21 he came to America and settled near Davenport, Iowa, where he worked on farms for eight years. He had heard much of the rich farming opportunities in the Pacific northwest. Having saved a small stake, he started west with his young wife, three small children and his father-in-law.
     The trip was made by the old Union Pacific emigrant train to Sacramento, thence by sidewheel steamer to Portland, then but a village. Here the little band paused to look about. The actual site of the future home was discovered while Hans Lage was on a hunting party, which was held up in Hood River by a severe snowstorm. Hood River valley caught his fancy and he determined to settle here. It was the year 1876 at the age of 29 that he bought a homestead from Milton Neal for the sum of $300. This included all rights and improvements, consisting of a four-room shanty and a small barn. At that time there were eight settlers on the east side of the valley and 12 on the west side. Several of the west side settlers strongly advised against this purchase.
     When the apple business developed, Lage's judgment proved to be wise. However, practically all of the original eastside settlers except Lage sold out before the really good times came.
     The only fruit trees on the place when Lage came were an apple and a Bartlett pear tree. These were still healthy and bearing in 1926 and the Bartlett yielded 30 boxes of fruit in that year, though over 50 years of age. The small orchard set out in 1880 grew to 30 acres by 1926 and yielded a harvest of 18,000 boxes of fine Hood River fruit.
     The real beginning of the fruit industry in Hood River valley was in 1881 with the first meeting of the East Side Irrigation company was held in Hans Lage's barn. This section does not require as heavy irrigation as Wenatchee or the Yakima project, but it does need water to make a good fruit crop. The first fruit growers' meeting, the basis of the present cooperative, was held in the fall of 1888.
     Hans Lage, wise old German, has never risked all his eggs in one basket, hence the medium-sized acreage in apples. There is a good herd of pure-bred Jerseys on the place and various crops are grown.
     Sixteen years ago (1921) at the age of 64, Hans Lage decided he had had enough and that he "would give the young folks a chance." So he retired. But he was still active on March 3, 1926, when neighbors gathered in the Pine Grove Grange hall to do homage to this patriarch in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the day on which he first moved upon his wilderness homestead.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer