The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., July 2, 1903, page 3

Oregon City Courier

     There is no state in the union that has more diversities in climate than has the state of Oregon. There is no spot of equal size within the limits of the United States more widely known than Hood River valley. The Hood River strawberry has become justly famous for its beauty, its shipping qualities and its palatable richness. It was the pleasure of the editor of the Courier to spend a couple of days the past week in this valley, if valley it can really be called, to meet some of the people who live there, and to learn something of the remarkable industry that has made of this land a Garden of Eden whose wealth-producing properties can hardly be equaled in any land. Hood river is a mountain stream in all the word implies. It has its source in Eliot glacier, on the northern slope of Mount Hood. Eliott glacier stands 300 feet high and shows to the north a rugged face of ice on which the sun has shown up for countless eons of time without diminishing its size. From its base there pours a stream of ice water, cold and pure as crystal. This stream is the source of Hood river. It is 9,000 feet above the sea. Twenty miles to the north as the crow flies is the Columbia river. Hood river tumbles and roars and gathers breadth and depth as it rushes to the Columbia and becomes not only a mountain torrent but a goodly mountain river whose roar can be heard many miles away. Just think of it, with a water course that is not more than forty miles in length, counting all its meandering. Hood river has a fall of 9,000 feet. The Hood River valley as a broken upland, much of it is covered with boulders and the debris of glaciers of a bygone age. Until a few years ago this land was considered practically worthless for anything except grazing. There is very little rain in the summer season and not overly much at any season of the year. A few years ago it was discovered that the finest of strawberries could be grown in this valley and that many kinds of fruit could be grown to greater perfection there than at any other point on the coast. Hood River valley lies right in the heart of the Cascade mountains, and the towering peaks of the godly range girt it on every side. While the Hood River apples are known in almost every land, and there sold for more money in the city of London, England, than any other apple that is shipped to that market, yet it is the Hood River strawberry that has given the valley its reputation and made of its broken uplands and barren hillside a goldconda richer than the dreams of Aladdin. In 1901 there was shipped from Hood River valley 40,000 crates of strawberries; in 1902, 55,700 crates, and we are told that in this good year of our Lord 1903, the strawberry season of which is now in full blast, that fully 100,000 crates of this delicious fruit will be sent forth to the markets of the world. When it is understood that each crate of strawberries nets the grower $1.65 clear profit, including interest on the investment and the labor of the owner, it can be readily seen how it is that each farmer in Hood River valley owns a gold mine in which strawberries are the golden nuggets that put wealth into his pockets. Ten years ago some of this land could be bought for $5 or $10 an acre. Now some of it cannot be bought for $1,000 an acre.
     It was our good fortune to stop with A.C. Staten and family, who own a strawberry ranch and fruit farm two miles out of Hood River city, on the slope of the mountain that fronts to the north, and midway between the snows of Mount Hood on the south and Mount Adams on the opposite side of the Columbia. Mr. Staten formerly lived in Salt Lake City and worked for twenty years there in the great iron foundry which is one of the chief industries of the City of the Saints. He came to Hood River four years ago and paid $60 an acre for the 40-acre farm he now owns. To the causal observer it would appear that he had paid twice as much, and possibly ten times as much as the farm was worth. This spring, however, he was offered $300 per acre for the same land and refused it. Just think of it, an appreciation of 400 percent in four years. He paid $2,400 for his ranch and refused in four years $7,000. In his home, which is not pretentious, he has a fine piano and a good library. And no wonder. A few years more of the same prosperity and he will own government bonds and city blocks.
     The strawberry grown in Hood River is not much different in many respects from other strawberries. It grows larger, bears handling, packing and shipping well, and in fact it is not at its best for table use until it has been four or five days off the vine. Most of the crop is shipped to the East, some to Portland, Seattle and Tacoma, and last year half a dozen crates were sent to Hong Kong, China, and arrived there in first-class condition. It requires at the present time 3,000 pickers and packers to handle the crop, and they are all imported from the outside world. Many of them are Yakima Indians. Many of the best white people of the Willamette valley go to Hood River and camp out during the strawberry season and make a holiday of it. The air is salubrious, the weather is not inordinately warm and the nights are perfectly glorious. Not a cloud appears in the sky, and even at night there is not a particle of dew. Everything is raised by irrigation, the water being taken from Hood river. It is not too much to predict that in a few more years Hood River will be the strawberry garden spot of the world and ship annually a million crates, bringing a profit to the growers of $1,500,000 annually, and all of this in a little upland, a broken valley, hidden away in the heart of the Cascade range. Hood River valley is only 40 miles as the crow flies from Oregon City, and Wasco county, in which it is situated, borders on Clackamas.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer